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April 17, 2012

Carancho (2010)
Director: Pablo Trapero
Actors: Ricardo Darín, Martina Gusman, José Luis Arias

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Synopsis: An unscrupulous injury lawyer, Sosa (Ricardo Darín), and an overworked junior doctor, Luján (Martina Gusman), cross paths on the nocturnal streets of Buenos Aires.

Review: If you’ve seen Martin Scorsese’s underrated Bringing out the Dead (1999) then Pablo Trapero’s Carancho is an uncanny echo of this, and comparisons between Scorsese’s crackling brand of fraught, moralistic cinema and that of Trapero’s doesn’t feel at all far-fetched.

Carancho certainly possesses an ingenious and gripping scenario – something apparently not so far from the truth of what actually happens on the streets of Buenos Aires. Sosa, played a magnetic Ricardo Darín, engages in a practice that is right on the fringes of the law: he’s a street-level injury lawyer who actually follows ambulances round to the scene of crashes, just so he can be first at hand to lobby clients for any future compensation claim.

Around this set-up director Pablo Trapero tags on further ambitious elements, making Carancho not just a commentary on corruption in Buenos Aires, but also a story of an unlikely love affair between two characters stuck on the fringes of Argentina’s well-heeled society: Sosa’s de facto street hustler and an overworked junior doctor, Luján – a lovely performance by Trapero muse and wife, Martina Gusmán.

It is the whole pressure-cooker atmosphere that Trapero nails best, with one bravura moment coming from a nightmarish handheld tracking shot which follows Luján as she has to deal with one of Sosa’s injury scams gone horribly wrong. There’s also a great scene of gallows humour when Luján is tending to one badly beaten football fan, only to find that his assailant is being treated in the very next bed – leading to another fight that escalates manically over the whole ward. (April 2012)

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