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(Adult) Tales of the Riverbank as man swaps places with brother.
Viggo Mortensen stars in a film about a man who switches places with his brother. That was all this reviewer knew about this film before seeing it. That was enough to know, to choose to go, and see it.
Film is rated 15 in the UK, it is a Fox film, Argentinian, set in Argentina, and it is in Spanish with English subtitles.
Film opens with Viggo Mortensen living in a rural setting by the river. His life is hard and harsh. By contrast his brother seems to have a charmed life. They are twins. However this film is not 'Twins'. No mismatched brothers like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Danny DeVito. No laughs either. This is not a comedy, but rather a grim crime drama, with some social comment, and a touch of philosophy.
Both twins, both played by Viggo Mortensen, in reality do not have great lives. One is unwell and living in a shack by the river, the other is unhappy with his family life. They meet and a chance to swap places arises. The scenes after the switch are shown from the point of view of the impostor. Like him we know very little and thus always wonder if the act has succeeded or has been suspected.
The acting by Viggo Mortensen is superb, he really convinces in his roles and the two brothers act together in a believable way. The way that Viggo Mortensen acts, is a perfect example of a person acting, as someone, who is acting, as someone different, than he is in reality. Of course this must really be second nature for Viggo Mortensen. The first time this reviewer saw him was as 'The stand-up guy' Lalin in 'Carlito's Way'. The second time was in 'A History of Violence'. So this is familiar territory.
Familiar too, is the backdrop. Like the recent 'Mud', much of this film is set on the river. However whereas 'Mud' was a story about two boys starting on the road to manhood, this film is about men who were once boys. Whereas 'Mud' was lovingly filmed to show honest hardworking families living off the river, this film is very much a more grim mirror-image of that. 'Mud' was a 12A, whereas this much grittier film, is a 15. As the river dominates the film, we see much to-ing and fro-ing in little motor boats. The weather is not nice. 'Promised Land' seemed to be shot in a cool off-season, rather than cool this seems positively cold. No false Spring here.
The movie was filmed well, the scenes with the two brothers seemed real and believable, and as said earlier, the two brothers seemed to interact well together. A lot of films recently, seem to have an awful lot of narration in them, 'Byzantium' is a perfect example of this. By contrast, this film has none of this, none is needed. A memory from the past is used in a subtle way to tell you all you need to know.
While praise is due to Viggo Mortensen for his acting, (he also produced), tribute is also due to the rest of the cast. The two females, one playing a girlfriend and the other a betrayed wife, gave excellent performances. The actor playing the childhood friend, gives a powerhouse performance, which dominates, in every scene he is in.
There is a 'Touch of Evil' about this film, as well as 'A History of Violence', mostly though this film has a river-theme like 'Mud', which makes them very similar. An interesting quirk of fate has caused two river-themed films to have come out around the same time. Or are we seeing the emergence of a Tales of the Riverbank genre? This is as good as 'Mud', though a little more adult. If you liked that river film, or 'A History of Violence', you will like this. 10/10.
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