I’m taking everyone I know to see this movie.
The movie, portraying Argentine detective Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Darin) trying to write a novel about a rape-murder case he’s had a twenty-five year obsession with, could have been a “baffling masterpiece” if I left it alone. But like every great film, I can’t, and it becomes more cohesive the more I think of it.
The movie, comfortably jumping from 1974 to 2000, has everything. Class conscious banter. The Hitchcockian theme wherein a man acting out on his impulses reminds another of his repressed desires and romances. A portrayal of human stupidity by Esposito and his partner Sandoval, whom, despite its intentions, prove that they’re neither cunning nor untouchable as they think. All of that in a slow marinade that is neither sleepy nor frustrating.
Then it has a climax like the seamless, much talked about chase scene in a full capacity soccer stadium.
The second half is, forgive me, a series of what-the-fucks. It’s one of those movies that can end in so many places, with slow dramatic volleys from one possible scenario to its exact opposite. One of those possible endings transports us to the year 2000, when both Esposito and his love interest, Irene Menendez Hastings, are older. She examines the novel and becomes dissatisfied where and how the rough draft ends, her way of encouraging him to find real answers and truths that both the characters and the audience deserve. This second half isn’t jolting but is nonetheless disturbing. Saying ‘that was the most fucking up thing I’ve ever seen’ was a gauge learned to judge great movies in high school viewership, and it’s still just as effective. The real ending that the characters and audience do deserve took a lot of buildup, and it’s believable and nonetheless human made by a director who can make great films.
The movie’s about how people treat each other, how people punish each other, a desire for vindication. It’s about a new cinematic language to articulate an idealism that hasn’t vanished in the personal nor national level, although it’s easy for that ideal to slip away.
Now that’s done, I’ll reintroduce Nathaniel R’s discovery of Natalie Portman’s three block rule, a rule that the Cumberland audience is notorious for breaking. And it’s funnier when middle-aged bourgeois feys break this rule.
“I thought the movie was so horrible.”
“Have you read the New Yorker review? I think you’re alone in this.”
“Just everything was set up. The female judge just happens to have her shirt a bit open when the suspect was there. And the elevator…”
“That’s like every other movie. It wasn’t as bad as the movie yesterday.” (Please don’t tell me these idiots didn’t see J.Lo)
“And the judge closing the case just like that.”
“Well, you don’t know what the Argentinian (ARGENTINE!) justice system was like. And it was the 70’s. It was a dictatorship.”
And so forth. I’m pretty sure I’m a loser for forestalking them (walking in front of the person you’re actually following). I just thought the dialogue was gold.
Apparently this movie’s about guilt. The best thing I could come up with was that the characters weren’t as annoying as my first impression of them was and that it wasn’t really that feminist and that there’s so much. Food. In this movie.
P.s. Fuck it.
Half of Scorsese movies are a Sisyphean project towards empathy, but he strikes gold in analyzing Henry (Ray Liotta) and Karen Hill (Lorraine Bracco). In a scene, Karen tells Henry that she flushed $50,000 worth of cocaine because of the police presence near their house, he is exasperated by knowing that their lavish lives become hollowed out. They repeat the same rationales for or against throwing out said cocaine for a few lines. At one point, I really thought this scene is gonna end like the last time. If I have to remind you, he hits her, she flails to the floor like a Guy Bourdin model (thus giving me ambiguous feelings about that, Marty), he storms out, the huge argument further fractures the relationship.
Now back to this scene. Instead of another assault, she apologizes, he doesn’t say but implies that she could have been right about making said cocaine disappear. Tour de force character writing/directing/acting come together as he goes into fetal position by instinct. He doesn’t have to think about being vulnerable, it’s surprisingly a part of his nature. She joins him, bellowing another “SORRY!” They become a lump of black and white bodies and as cheesy as it sounds, become one. Her lamentation articulates his the anguish that most Scorsese men can’t verbally produce.
This movie has a lot of flaws, specifically around Karen’s characterization. I can’t still understand how he attracted her. Passivity is under the guise of being observant and pragmatic, materialism under the guise of female desire. But there’s this appreciation or realization that gangsters will always have mistakes because they’re illegitimate by nature. And that the characters seem in a better light under a second view. And the food.