The Signal

The Signal

***

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

If star ratings only relied on the look of a film, then this directing debut by established Argentinian actor Ricardo Darín (alongside co-director Martin Hodara) would surely nail five stars. The cinematography of this period drama – set against the background of the decline in health of Eva Peron in 1950s Argentina – is nothing short of magnificent. Unfortunately, however, the impressive framing and gorgeous washed-out look does not extend to the script of what is, ultimately, a rather pedestrian film noir.

Darín plays ‘Kiddo’ Corvalan one half of a down-at-heel gumshoe partnership in an ‘North American’ style detective agency. Working alongside his partner Santana (Diego Peretti), he cares for little other than his dog, what’s going on at the racetrack and occasional liaisons with his teacher girlfriend. That is until his path is crossed by femme fatale Gloria (Julieta Díaz), the wife of a mafia kingpin. She asks him to trail a man – but things get steamy after his mark turns up dead and she turns up the heat on their relationship.

Darín again proves, as he did with the far superior El Aura, that there are few that can match him when it comes to ‘crumpled noir’ characters, while Peretti also puts in a decent performance. But they are unable to raise the level of the script, written by Eduardo Mignogna – who was originally slated to direct – but who died suddenly during its pre-production. One can’t help but wonder whether additional hands on the project are what has spoiled the broth or whether it is simply that Mignogna’s script was treated with too much reverence in his memory.

The look and some of the plotting recalls, in its better moments, noir classics such as Double Indemnity, but Raymond Chandler would never have time for the morass of expositional dialogue used here. The pace does gather momentum in the last 20 minutes or so, leading to some decent tension as Kiddo’s life starts to go south, but the outcome is not sufficiently unpredictable to make up for the plodding confusion that has gone before. Darín certainly shows some talent behind the camera, it will be interesting to see what he makes of better scripts in the future.

Reviewed on: 07 Mar 2008
Share this with others on...
Film noir sees a down-at-heel gumshoe get mixed up an with Argentinian mafioso's moll.

Director: Ricardo Darín, Martin Hodara

Writer: Patricio Vega, Eduardo Mignogna

Starring: Ricardo Darín, Diego Peretti, Julieta Díaz, Andrea Pietra, Vando Villamil, Carlos Bardem

Year: 2007

Runtime: 95 minutes

Country: Argentina, Spain

Festivals:

Viva 2008

Search database:


If you like this, try:

Double Indemnity
Laura
L.A. Confidential