- Colin Fraser
TWO AND A HALF STARS A group of villagers plot to steal their life savings from the banker who robbed them first.
COMEDY Argentina Spanish Language #HEROICLOSERS
Ricardo Darîn, Luis Brandoni
As Fermin the hero of this revenge comedy caper would say, when life gives you a kick in the balls it’s time to say ‘enough!’ Inevitably it does, and he does too. The kick is a white collar bank heist which relieves Fermin of his life savings on the eve of an Argentinian economic collapse. The caper is a complicated plot to steal it back, one which involves several colourful friends from his village, all victims of wrong-doing.
Such is the way of this kind of been-here movie, it’s never about the outcome (signposted from the opening frames and one that never strays from expectation), it’s all about the journey. Therefore maintaining our interest relies heavily on an engaging script and an engaged director who can freshen up the familiar without making it seem too fresh. We want to see quirky misfits take on the system, we need tragedy and humour and pathos, we need the underdog(s) to win, we must resolve in the favour and finish on a high note. But above all, we want it to feel different. A tricky proposition.
So how does Argentinian director Sebastián Borensztein achieve this? Well, arguably, he doesn’t. We run the gamut of quirky misfits, we have the humour and tragedy and pathos, we have low notes and high and we have the backdrop of Argentinian economic policy to give it a deeper resonance. What we don’t have is heart. Perhaps the story doesn’t export terribly well and, like New Zealand films about sheep, has greater resonance in its home country. Dull is too strong a word, but nor is it especially captivating.
HEROIC LOSERS wobbles along a path populated with languid passages of limited interest, sentimental contrivances and madcap moments which owe more to 1970’s screwball comedy. Because the film keeps one foot in mundane reality and another in cheerful absurdity, the results fail to satisfy on either count. We don’t believe in their plight, and we don’t much care about these characters. Again, no heart. And this despite the star-wattage of Ricardo Darîn (Argentina’s compelling everyman) plus the stunt casting of his son as his son. HEROIC LOSERS may be an amiable enough distraction, but that’s about it.