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Into the woods . . .
on August 27, 2007
Don't be put off by the violence of the image on the DVD cover for this film by Argentine director Fabián Bielinsky. It represents one brief moment in an off-beat heist movie that is full of twists and turns that defy expectations. Focused as it is on the mental and emotional state of the lead character, played by Ricardo Darín, it takes a while to even come together around a heist. Withdrawn and hyper vigilant, he's a detail obsessed taxidermist who goes hunting with an acquaintance in the woods and while in pursuit of a deer shoots a man instead. And thus begins an escapade full of deceit, danger, and increasingly high stakes, all complicated by the main character's epileptic condition that produces seizures at inopportune moments.
Darín is just fine as the taxidermist hero, rarely giving us more than a single intense expression registering puzzlement, concentration, confusion, fear, or fascination with whatever he is observing. A robbery, which he watches from across the street, has the creepy verisimilitude of amateur news media footage, random gunshots fired by unseen shooters and figures running for cover. Meanwhile, scenes set in deep woods alternate with barren and desolate expanses crossed by hard-top roads leading to distant towns. As with Bielinsky's previous feature "Nine Queens," this film mixes genres that lead to interesting ambiguities and unexpected results. Recommended for fans of crime films with some psychological depth.