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Carancho (DVD Review)

6 May, 2011 By: Billy Gil

Prebook 5/10/11; Street 6/7/11
Box Office $0.08 million
$27.99 DVD
Not rated.
In Spanish with English subtitles.
Stars Ricardo Darin, Martina Gusman.

Argentina’s official submission to the Oscars exposes the problem of traffic accidents in the country and the industry of lawsuits and insurance claims behind it.

The film centers on two characters, Sosa (excellent Ricardo Darín of 2009 best foreign-language film winner The Secret in Their Eyes) and Luján (Martina Gusman of director Pablo Trapero’s last film, the similarly bleak Lion’s Den). Sosa is a disbarred lawyer who shows up at accident scenes to “help” people with claims who often times do not have insurance — with the “foundation” he works for reaping most of the money. Meanwhile, Luján is a new, young doctor who begins seeing Sosa around, as she tries to save the lives of the people on whom Sosa is trying to capitalize.

Sosa seems to see Luján as a way out of his crooked life and begins to court her. Just why the beautiful young doctor takes to shlubby Sosa and turns from tough as nails to kind of pathetic over him is anyone’s guess, but it’s one of the film’s weak points, great as Gusman is in the role.

More interesting than the love story are the intense, almost documentary-style scenes of car accidents, Luján in battle mode at the hospital as well as Sosa’s dealings with a mafia-style industry built on reaping the benefits from victims. Though Sosa isn’t the most likeable character, you empathize with him as he makes mistakes — a friend’s faked injury goes horribly wrong, launching a series of tragic events. Although you can see the writing on the wall for Sosa from the get-go, you can’t help but get wrapped up into the ugly world Sosa and Luján inhabit, as Trapero’s unflinching eye turns statistics into real people.

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