Los Perros


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Los Perros
"Zegers and Castro are no strangers to strange chemistry, most notably in Post Mortem, and they bring a dark psychological edge to their interactions."

Marcela Said takes a chilly approach to her country's murky political history in this story of a woman who becomes obsessed with the past, even as it starts to impact on her present. It's the sort of tale that Said's countryman Pablo Larraín has become known for illustrating and it's hard not to think of his more interrogative dog-inflected film The Club as you watch Los Perros (Spanish for The Dogs), which once more re-teams Antonio Zegers and Alfredo Castro.

Zegers takes centre stage here as Mariana. Epitomising the idea of a bird in a gilded cage, she has all the creature comforts, reaping cash courtesy of her father's logging company while barely having to get involved with it and running an art gallery, in between stints of boredom with her pet dog at home, broken only by IVF hormone treatment and trips out to a riding school.

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There, she is under the tutelage of Juan (Castro), a former colonel who isn't afraid of her in the way others she pays are. When she discovers he is being investigated over historic human rights abuses under the Pinochet regime, she becomes drawn to him further, even as she begins to see some unpleasant truths about her own family.

Zegers and Castro are no strangers to strange chemistry, most notably in Post Mortem, and they bring a dark psychological edge to their interactions, their performances are almost certainly what propelled the film to the Horizontes Latinos prize at San Sebastian Film Festival. The tension is fuelled by the oppressive atmosphere created by Said, which emphasises the way that Mariana is fluttering against her bars - breaking the rules of her hormone regime or ignoring orders from her less than attentive husband and over-doting father. But, surprisingly for someone who has come from a documentary background, she has a tendency to make her ideas and metaphors too obvious - even going so far as to present one of them in a 5ft tall frame. Zegers is more than capable of showing us Mariana's emotional landscape but Said can't resist underlining her privilege with scripting which, amongst other things, sees her male family members repeatedly referring to the fact that isn't isn't shopping/in a mall.

The narrative also feels undernourished, with Mariana's motivations remaining frustratingly opaque and her actions - particularly with the cop investigating Juan - straining the bounds of believability. In the end, despite the good acting, it still feels like a familiar argument being given another run over a set of predictable jumps.

Reviewed on: 31 Oct 2017
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Los Perros packshot
A woman embarks on an affair with a colonel suspected of human rights abuses.

Director: Marcela Said

Writer: Marcela Said

Starring: Alfredo Castro, Antonia Zegers, Rafael Spregelburd, Alejandro Sieveking

Year: 2017

Runtime: 94 minutes

Country: France, Chile

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If you like this, try:

The Club