|Film review: Carancho|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Monday, 26 March 2012 13:41|
Director: Pablo Trapero
8,000 car crashes happen in Argentina every year. By the end of Carancho, you’ll feel like you’ve been in one of them. This gritty South American noir about an affair between an ambulance chaser and an ambulance driver hits you hard. It’s like being smacked in the side of the face by a truck. A truck full of awesome.
If the film didn’t have you at “South American noir” (and it should have), then its brutal blend of romance and violence will knock some sense into you. Sosa (Darin) is a carancho – a vulture who spends his life convincing traffic collision victims to pay his dodgy law firm to sue for damages and hog all the profits. He’s not a nice guy.
Luján (Gusman), meanwhile, is a kind-hearted doctor who’s lonely and wears glasses. Yes, she’s addicted to anaesthetic but she also loathes ambulance chasers and corrupt officials. And she wears glasses. And she’s incredibly sexy. In short, she’s the second greatest paramedic of all time – right after Josh off Casualty.
Inevitably, sexy Josh and nasty lawyer cross paths. He’s got a bruised face after cheating the wrong clients and she’s exhausted after a horrible night shift in A and E. Coffee and sex soon follows – as does a string of car crashes where Lujan gives Sosa the inside track.
They’re flawed anti-heroes to say the least - Sosa barely flinches at bashing in someone’s leg with a hammer to make a quick buck - but Pablo Trapero’s thriller completely sells their relationship. Their sex is passionate, their kisses delicate, their grim determination endearing. They’re the Bonnie and Clyde of the traffic incident world.
Darin follows The Secret in Their Eyes with an intense performance - closer to Ryan Gosling in Drive than a sleazy lawyer – that balances being a total bastard with being immensely likeable. He’s handsome, too, in a roughly chiselled kind of way, the lines on his face hewn out of his skull by the gritty world around him. Gusman matches him with an equally captivating, tender turn, surrounded daily by punch-ups and gunshots in the battleground of a hospital.
Throughout, Trapero anchords their love firmly in the grubby social surroundings of Buenos Aires. Money appears on screen a lot, but so does blood. The couple gradually develop morals, deciding to even out the playing field so that the thousands of traffic victims have a fighting chance.
As heavyweight thugs close in around them, the music gets louder and the visuals more chaotic - Ezequiel Borovinsky and Pablo Trapero’s editing is visceral stuff. Then, Sosa and Lujan’s desperate scheme to get rich and escape Argentina suddenly balloons out of control. Carancho ends with a shocking climax that has a real impact. You’ll be breathing heavily for several minutes afterwards. You can only hope that Sexy Josh is there to do CPR.