A mysterious man emerges from the Argentinean rainforest to help a poor farmer and his daughter, who are threatened by a band of mercenaries hired to force them to sell their land. take over his property.
Gael García Bernal,
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Respectable older man in suit is going into a school. The camera follows him all the way in. We the audience are like a spy on his shoulder privy to, and given privileged access to, all the movement this man is going to make in the next hour. We'll be so close-up to him we'll almost feel like we were actively participating in all that he gets up to. Even though we don't know why we, or he, is doing it.
We'll feel his deliberations and anxieties as if they were our own. And although we suspect he's up to something, we don't know if he, if we, will get away with it. Because we're sort of on his side. Or at least we feel complicit in what he's doing. And we're feeling uncomfortable that he's doing it. Because he's robbing nice people. Nice people like us. And like the kind of nice person he looks like he ought to be being but isn't.
The hand held camera provides immediate narration. It's all happening as if in real time. As if it were a documentary. There's no flashbacks or back story, no attempt to explain, give exposition, infer motives.
Turns out he's a head teacher in a school. So why's he been robbing these other schools? To get his own back for some past injustice? Or is he a good guy really? Stealing to benefit his own school in some necessary way, redistributing wealth to the needy like a modern day Robin Hood ? We don't really know. Because we're not being told.
This film appears to be of the Show don't Tell school, similar in style to the quasi documentary close-up realist directing of the Dardenne brothers from Belgium.
It had me on tenterhooks. I felt like a mugger. It was disconcerting. But compelling.
Arturo Goetz as the mugger was extraordinary. It hardly felt like acting.
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