A retired legal counselor writes a novel hoping to find closure for one of his past unresolved homicide cases and for his unreciprocated love with his superior - both of which still haunt him decades later.
Juan José Campanella
I fear that this is a movie of many contradictions, at least for me. I watch Argentine cinema with a lot of emotion, always hoping for the best; and frankly "Cordero de Dios" is far from the best our cinema can deliver. However, I feel inclined to analyze the contradictions it presented me. It is a movie I somehow feel I knew by heart, but not because of the story. Probably because of the rest; it's a movie that seems to have been made for me, and I wasn't expecting it.
Lucía Cedrón, free of all fear, came along with an original idea that has to do with the subject our cinema has always come back to and has had more problems in treating: the dictatorship of the 70's. Cedrón wrote and directed the film, but it may all be a trick, because the story is set in our times. Guillermina (Leonora Balcarce) receives a call saying that her grandfather Arturi (Jorge Marrale) has been kidnapped (the director shows the unnecessary but apparently obligatory kidnapping scene) and she's asked for ransom money A lot of money.
Instantly, a key player comes into the scene: Teresa (Mercedes Moran), daughter of the kidnapped man and mother of Guillermina, coming all the way from Paris. The kidnapping is crucial, but we never see where Arturo is being kept or what's being done to him. The action unfolds in a big house where Teresa used to live in the 70's and in which Guillermina lives now.
The past and the present start to mingle without indication of temporary change; we see a younger Teresa (Malena Solda) in the same house, her husband Paco (Juan Minujín) and a little Guillermina; we also see a lot of Arturo in the past. We want to know what's really happening in both time periods, but we can't. There's always tension among all the characters, even when they clearly love each other.
What's mainly wrong as we watch the film is the indecision Cedrón has for what she wants her movie to be. There's a clear visual search, an esthetic thing with the windows and the doors-courtesy of cinematographer Guillermo Nieto, usual collaborator of Pablo Trapero-, the presence of secrets and things unsaid, unclear images here and there; but there's no real tension, no emotion. Every framing is too planned, to studied, and if we feel emotion is because we know we should.
The importance of the dictatorship period slowly seems to fade. Cedrón backs down from the apparent main idea; her script and her images are neither inside the feeling of the dictatorship (like Adrian Caetano's brilliant "Crónica de una fuga") nor in the middle of it (like Marcelo Pineyro's "Kamchatka"). The fundamental period of the country suddenly seems a mere context of a powerful, painful family story that could belong anywhere as long as there are windows and doors and big houses around, and people talking about the present and the past. Therefore, I feel a little betrayed, because the movie also has chances to make this time period seem more than just an excuse, but wastes each one of them.
I'm not saying Cedrón is not brave or that her search has no merit; but she shows herself too pretentious and self-important for a first time director. I want her story to belong to a different time, because whenever Mercedes Morán is on screen I want to clap my hands and thank her for doing everything right; because when the film's most important revelation finally happens, the camera is on the right place and we can feel something close to an emotion (a shock, at least).
Because the ending is perfect; one of the best endings of this decade of New Argentine Cinema, if there's still such thing. As I said, contradictions "Cordero de Dios" should be New Argentine Cinema, but it never feels like it. It looks like it is faking it.
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