Cornerhouse LiveWire Young Film Critic James Martin reviews Carancho
The latest movie from Argentina is an altogether different beast from its last major offering on the international front – The Secret in Their Eyes, despite the fact that both share the same superb lead actor: the prolific Ricardo Darin. In this, Darin plays Sosa, a disgraced lawyer who spends his time wondering around A&E Departments, chasing ambulances and staging accidents to acquire clients for the insurance company he works for. Of course, the company is about as rotten as they come – stinking of corruption, insatiable greed, disgusting selfishness and thuggish violence. Sosa is essentially the good guy mixed up in this, stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Then there is Lujan – the beautiful young doctor who has slowly become desensitized and cynical in her constant exhaustion and painful loneliness, alleviated only temporarily by her drug abuse. The two meet one night at the site of a car accident: Lujan wants to help the victim, Sosa wants to add him to the client list. That they fall in love is inevitable. We know it’s coming, and so this movie’s success rests largely on the chemistry between the two stars and the believability of the relationship that grows between the characters they play.
That chemistry is electric. This adjective would pretty much describe the rest of the film as well; imperfect and rough around the edges it may be, but this is intelligent, high octane entertainment at its finest. It is a dark film that blends a great depth in its thematic material with fully developed characterisation and a plot as compelling and tense as anything I’ve seen all year. The camerawork is unassuming but rigorously effective in its free-style, rough-and-ready dismissal of the glossy visuals of Hollywood; the jerky camera movements and the inspired editing accentuate the brutality of the violence we see without ever making it overly gratuitous.
Some, I’m sure, will feel that the movie ends very abruptly. Indeed it does, but I don’t see that as a flaw – the movie’s last five minutes are so scary and tense, I was literally making hand gestures at the screen, as if I could alert the protagonists about events they were unaware of. It’s been a while since I’ve embarrassed myself that much in the cinema, but it shows how effective the movie is. That Carancho ends strangely cannot be held against it; it is a great, loud and violent film noir, and (quite fittingly), it ends with a bang!