Eye For Film >> Movies >> Los Debutantes (2003) Film Review
Reviewed by: Gary Duncan
This cleverly constructed noir thriller from Chile bears all the hallmarks of the hard-boiled genre - sleazy strip joints, gangsters' molls and shady double dealings - but also boasts standout performances from its three leads, especially Antonella Rios as the mob boss's squeeze.
Rios plays Gracia, an exotic dancer at a Santiago nightclub run by her sugar daddy Don Pascual (Alejandro Trejo), the local Mr Big. Brothers Silvio and Victor (Nestor Cantillana and Juan Pablo Miranda) stop off at the club one night to celebrate Victor's seventeenth birthday. While Victor struggles to get to grips with his birthday present in one of the upstairs "hospitality" rooms, Silvio intervenes downstairs when a drunk attacks one of the dancers.
When Don Pascual offers Silvio a job, the brothers are unwittingly caught up in a dangerous game of lies and betrayals as first Victor and then Silvio fall for Gracia's ample charms. You can hardly blame them - we first see her strutting her stuff on stage wearing nothing but strategically placed dollops of whipped cream.
Co-writer/director Andres Waissbluth tells the story from the viewpoint of the protagonists, each time peeling away layers and showing us the same events from different perspectives, first Victor's, then Silvio's, then Gracia's. It's a clever way of building tension and he still manages to bring most of the loose ends together in the last 20 minutes.
There are no great surprises and, though Waissbluth handles the story well, questions remain unanswered. Gracia's motives are never fully explained. Is she a scheming gold digger, or an innocent caught up in events? Does she deliberately set out to ensnare Victor and Silvio? Would Don Pascual, a seen-it-all-before mobster, really be so naive as to offer Silvio a job as his bodyguard simply because he disarmed a drunk in a bar room brawl?
In the end, Waissbluth, Rios et al are let down by the story. Take away the three-person structure and it doesn't amount to much. Rios's whipped-cream strut, however, more than compensates for that.Reviewed on: 29 Jul 2005