Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Blood & honey: EVERYBODY HAS A PLAN offers a double-dose of Viggo Mortensen in Ana Piterbarg's Argentine film noir

 Film noir is generally set in a city, no? Most noir that I recall is what I'd refer to as "metro-noir," although I think there have been a few set in "suburbia." But what about noir that takes place a long way from civilization (think of this as "sticks noir")? Not so many. The new Argentine movie EVERYBODY HAS A PLAN (Todos tenemos un plan) is one such sticks noir (you might even call it a Styx noir, as in that mythical river), and although part of it does take place in an Argentine city, most of the film is set on an island inhabited by few people. Yet the movie, I maintain, is noir through and through.

Co-written (with Ana Cohan) and directed by Ana Piterbarg, shown at right, who has worked mainly in Latin American television, the movie stars Viggo Mortensen, an actor with some roots in Argentina and who appears to speak Spanish quite well. (He always acts well, too, and this movie proves no exception.) It's an odd story concerning, of all things, twins -- which gives a welcome double-dose of Mr. Mortensen. One twin inhabits that island (on the Tigre Delta) and is part-time beekeeper, part-time criminal; the other lives in the big city, where he has a practice as a popular pediatrician and lives with (or is maybe married to) an attractive and successful woman. But is either twin really happy? It appears not.

If we never learn the "source" of this unhappiness, fairly late in the film we do trace it to, of course, childhood. Given how generally clueless these twins, shown above and below, are to their most important needs and desires, we accept fairly easily this lack of self-knowledge (in them) and our own lack of understanding about what, exactly, went wrong in their lives.

Once the twosome gets together, below, their lives entwine in a most unusual manner. To go into further plot development will simply spoil that plot and the occasional surprise that Ms Piterbarg offers along the way. Suffice it to say that murder, most cold-blooded and foul, occurs, along with another that, by comparison, is nearly benign.

Betrayals of several kinds take place, love blooms, the country mouse visits the city and vice versa,  we meet a particularly evil man with an unholy regard for using Scripture to justify his shitty deeds, and those bees (whom we have been involved with since nearly scene one) get their new queen and start making some decent honey. (That last bit would qualify as the "happy" part of these proceedings.)

In the supporting cast are a number of excellent actors, led by Daniel Fanego (above, left) as that nasty, creepy killer; 

Soledad Villamil (above, right) as the city twin's significant other;

and Sofía Gala Castiglione (above, left) as the young woman who helps with the bee-keeping and grows fond of one of the twins.

Mr. Mortensen does a quiet, subtle job of twin differentiation and especially of engulfing us fully with a sense of sorrow and decay that presages what is to come. If there is little that is actually new here, Ms Piterbarg certainly know her deck, shuffles the cards well and then deals a hand that viewers will recognize slowly and sadly, even if the characters we're rooting for (or against) do not. Everyone has a plan, indeed, but those plans, unfortunately, are at loggerheads.

A sad movie about the waste of humanity, Everyone Has a Plan (from Fox International and running just under two hours) opens this Friday, March 22, in New York City at the Angelika Film Center and the AMC Empire 25. Elsewhere, too, I am guessing, but I can find no information on cities or theaters. But, as with most Fox International films, I would expect a DVD release eventually. So, if you're a noir nut, or you simply appreciate a good solid melodrama, add this one to your Netflix queue....

No comments: