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Carancho/The Vulture


Stars: Ricardo Darin, Martina Gusman, Carlos Weber, Jose Luis Arias, Fabio Ronzano, Loren Acuna, Gabriel Almiron, Jose Espeche

Director: Pablo Trapero

This gripping film noir, which was Argentina’s submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards, casts Darin (The Secret in Their Eyes) as a conscienceless ambulance-chasing Buenos Aires attorney who trawls the city’s streets and hospitals looking for traffic accident victims he can persuade to sue, leaving him to take a fat fee when the legal actions pan out.

He and his fellow ‘vultures’ do well in a city plagued by accidents, until he locks horns with the ruthless crook for whom he works and faces death, a fate that seems to be ameliorated by his burgeoning romance with hard-working hospital doctor Gusman…

The picture of the city painted by director (and co-scenarist) Trapero isn’t a pleasant one. The Buenos Aires of the travelogues is eradicated, leaving a sobering, not to say terrifying, vision of a city by night whose essential ambience is one of terror and violence.

See Carancho in its original form before it’s sanitized and star-ridden by a Hollywood remake. The unfamiliar faces (to non-Argentine audiences, at any rate) of the actors add reality to a tough and gritty thriller that doesn’t pull its dramatic punches and which is topped by a hyper-suspenseful climax that could have you biting your fingernails right up to the elbows.

Alan Frank

Argentina/Chile/France/ South Korea 2010. UK Distributor: Axiom films. Colour.
107 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 03 Mar 2012