Too many twists spoil the plot

Meet Lujan (Martina Gusman), a doctor who treats traffic accident patients, and Sosa (Ricardo Darin), a malpracticing attorney who scams victims out of insurance money.

Argentina’s roads are like any: busy, loud and dangerous. Pablo Trapero’s film “Carancho” takes viewers into the lives of people who know just how dangerous the roads can be. Meet Lujan (Martina Gusman), a doctor who treats traffic accident patients, and Sosa (Ricardo Darin), a malpracticing attorney who scams victims out of insurance money.

At first, the couple, whose affair begins instantaneously, seems mismatched. Through the course of the film, however, viewers learn that appearances can be deceiving. As Sosa’s dreams of a “peaceful” job and Lujan’s self-destruction unravel, the two become inseparable.

“Carancho” does many things correctly. The acting is relatively convincing, the cinematography is clear and the editing is in no way jarring. Like any thoughtful film, protagonist Lujan undergoes strenuous character development. Yet to give “Carancho” a good rating based on these credentials alone is like rewarding a student for doing their homework. Completion is required and expected, but it is the quality of the work that warrants the grade.

The first plot twist is horrifyingly entertaining. The second plot twist is okay, too. But after the third, fourth and fifth major turns of the story, audiences are desensitized, annoyed and expectant. I knew exactly how the movie was going to end before I watched it, so chances are you will too. “Carancho” is ruined by this desperate attempt to create interest in, ironically, what could have been an emotional and developed film. Trapero can’t seem to get enough of cheap shock value. A seemingly complex addition soon becomes submerged by other incoming dramatic elements. For instance, (minor spoiler alert) it is revealed that Lujan shoots heroin. Trapero’s superficial attempt at revealing the troubled nature of Lujan’s character adds absolutely nothing to the film. It does not progress the plot but merely makes a mockery of an otherwise emotional film as it raises such an important issue but gives it no attention.

The unconventional casting is a minor annoyance. Gusman, who looks like she just graduated high school, is far too young to play a convincing doctor. As such, Darin embodies a creep more than sweet lover, making scenes of affection unbearable to watch—not to mention that the sex scene is unnecessarily long and quite frankly, disgusting (no offense, Darin). The fact that Sosa is three times Lujan’s age is never an issue in the film. Trapero should keep in mind that literary and cinematic classics, “Lolita” being a good example in this case, revolve around one issue and all of its complexity instead of skimming a lot of them. A mature and contemplative audience yearns to delve deeper.

The interesting thing about this film is that it wouldn’t work well for Hollywood, either. Despite cheap thrills, it also manages to be excruciatingly slow, which is admittedly somewhat impressive: the worst of both worlds, really. It does not examine issues in and of themselves. The basics are there, but for those attending the Portland International Film center to see out of the box, perspective changing, cinematically evolved film, “Carancho” should be avoided. The film has so much potential. The original premise is strong and multiple themes arise. Only minor mistakes are committed. But there are so many minor mistakes that “Carancho” essentially fails to win admiration. Superficial, slow and predictable, “Carancho” is not worth the time nor the money. ?