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In 2011 Portugal began the so-called "year of the Troika" (EU, IMF and ECB budget cuts and economic restructuring), with the level of debt among the Portuguese people reaching staggering amounts and a growing number of families and companies unable to repay their installment loans. Jorge is an unemployed boxer on the verge of losing his son and his wife, who has decided to return to Brazil. As a means of paying off his debt and persuading his wife to remain in Portugal, Jorge accepts a job with a debt-collection agency, which will drag him into a world of violence and crime.
The focus of the film is about collection agencies that legally buy debts long considered by frustrated creditors as unrecoupable. The audience gets to witness Jorge, a fighter who is a part of a three-man team making rounds to collect payments for such debts.
The issue of abuse by these unscrupulous companies has been explored in numerous news programs and specials detailing the shady tactics employed to force money out of those debtors whether be it through shaming, intimidation, coercion, etc. All of which are shown in this film. But it gets way trickier once these people starts to deal with businesses who are trying their best to stay solvent, few remaining companies providing employment for locals when most of the jobs in the country have already gone overseas. Not even Jorge's calloused fists and brawny arms guarantees them from being able to squeeze money out of these desperate people.
This is where Jorge's commitment as a hired muscle will be tested, with his career as a prize boxer already nearing its end, his need to be more thicker-skinned to cling on to his loathsome job is his only hope in to be able to move out living with his domineering father, though very supportive in his dedication for his chosen sport, has a strained if not a hostile relationship with his son Nelson and Nelson's black Brazilian mother Susana.
Nuno Lopes gave an invigorating performance despite the film's formulaic struggling- boxer-living-in-a-working-class-neighborhood storyline. Quite a revelation actually how he managed to convey consistently the swagger that one comes to expect of a slugger yet demonstrate that tenderness and vulnerability whenever the character is seen bonding with his son or the son's mother. He also exudes that reserved charm in intimate moments and playful spirit that emerges discretely when he thinks no one is looking. Equally engaging, the scenes at the gym where the character portrays that intense devotion to a boxing training regimen which ultimately rewards him with a well-sculpted physique.
And by George, what a bod, a sight that the viewer gets to gawk and admire that's so suffocatingly close that we can even hear his whisperings whenever he does those morning rituals as he amps himself up for the day he has yet to face.
My rating: A-minus.
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