The Man Next Door

The Man Next Door


Reviewed by: James Benefield

An important ingredient in personal happiness and general wellbeing is to be comfortable in your surroundings.

Being a designer Leonardo (Rafael Spregelburd) knows this intimately. That's why he lives in a house designed by renowned Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier. Its clean edges and reassuring 90 degree angles are striking, but ordered and controlled. It's also the only example of the architect's work in South America. However, when his next door neighbour Victor (Daniel Araoz) decides to make adjustments to his own pad, Leonardo's contentment starts to splinter.

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Victor wants another window. Unfortunately, this window is on the side of the house and will look directly into Leonardo's modernist masterpiece. Leonardo first asks nicely to halt proceedings, then nastily and then involves the lawyers. But despite all this, and his relationship with his wife starting to falter, Victor continues. But Victor is such a nice guy. He gives Leonardo self-made artworks. He wants to be Leonardo's friend. How can you say no to that face?

The curious thing about The Man Next Door is why it wasn't made in Britain. It's essentially an exercise in high-class tension (in all senses), decanted through a comedy of manners. Perhaps a remake is beckoning, with Hugh Grant as the snobby architect and Danny Dyer as the tacky, new money neighbour.

However, it's shot in a way that is distinctly South American. There is a style and funkiness to proceedings that we could never pull off. From the two-tone credit sequence to the jaunty camera angles, this is visually striking stuff.

Thankfully, it's not all flash. The movie's chief pleasures come through the acting. Both leads are consistently engaging. The concept itself is paper thin and over-stretched, and, with two other actors in charge, you could see how proceedings would grate. However, due to their lightness of touch, it's consistently watchable.

It's all topped off with an unexpectedly poignant, and highly memorable, ending. It's not just Le Corbusier who finished off his sleek, fresh work with sharp angles.

Reviewed on: 17 Jun 2010
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An architectural battle of wits.
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Director: Mariano Cohn, Gastón Duprat

Writer: Mariano Cohn, Gastón Duprat

Starring: Rafael Spregelburd, Daniel Aráoz, Eugenia Alonso, Inés Budassi, Lorenza Acuña, Eugenio Scopel, Rubén Guzmán, Debora Zanolli, Bárbara Hang, Enrique Gagliesi

Year: 2009

Runtime: 103 minutes

Country: Argentina

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