Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"There is a full-throttle, head-long feel to Trapero's film that sends it careering along."

Pablo Trapero reteams with co-writers Alejandro Fadel, Martín Mauregui and Santiago Mitre, who all worked on his last Palme D'Or nominated film Lion's Den, to create a tense thriller packed with questions of mortality and dicey morality.

Suso (Ricardo Darin) is an amublance-chasing "vulture", whose job is to offer traffic accident victims and their families a shoulder to cry on and a pen with which to sign on the dotted line, so that he can claim their compensation for them - taking a huge cut for his employer along the way. Justifying his life by claiming he acts like the equivalent of social services, Suso himself is almost as much of a patsy as those his company rips off, being completely in thrall to his bosses.

Copy picture

When, one night he bumps into paramedic Lujan (Maria Gusman) over the body of the latest road victim, they fall for one another but, inevitably, she has troubles of her own.

Trapero's early films were known for his neo-realistic shooting and he has definitely adjusted his style. Although there is a gritty reality to the grimy world Suso and Lujan inhabit, there is also a more noticeable directorial hand on the tiller compared to earlier films such as Born And Bred and El Bonaerense. In particular, his camera clings to Lujan in tight-as-a-hug close up for much of the film. In early scenes this has the benefit of acting as a bridge between her and us and later it really pays off in terms of tension as thriller elements increasingly come in to play.

This is not just a world in which little guys are on the take. Trapero's film is at pains to point out the reality for those living in an Argentina, where traffic accidents are on the rise and a compensation culture is running amok. The galloping rot of greed and manipulation runs through the system from top to bottom and those who aren't willing to bend the rules are likely to be steamrollered by those who are. Addiction here, doesn't just apply to drug users, but to those who are hooked on milking society, no matter what the cost.

There is a full-throttle, head-long feel to Trapero's film that sends it careering along. Fortunately, the central chemistry between Darin and Gusman gives us something to hold tight to even as other aspects of the film begin to race out of control. The explorations of morality in all its shades of grey are so good early on that it is a shame that, as with Born And Bred, the film's conclusion feels one step too far into contrivance to carry the emotional impact that it ought to. Still, this is a thrusting, gritty, pacy thriller that could easily break out from the arthouse.

Reviewed on: 09 Feb 2011
Share this with others on...
Carancho packshot
An ambulance-chasing lawyer forms a relationship with a young doctor.
Amazon link

Director: Pablo Trapero

Writer: Alejandro Fadel, Martín Mauregui, Santiago Mitre, Pablo Trapero

Starring: Ricardo Darín, Martina Gusman, Carlos Weber, José Luis Arias, Loren Acuña, Gabriel Almirón, José Manuel Espeche

Year: 2010

Runtime: 107 minutes

Country: Argentina, Chile, France, South Korea

Search database:

If you like this, try:

Amores Perros
Lion's Den