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White Elephant (2012)

Ricardo Darin , Jeremie Renier , Pablo Trapero  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ricardo Darin, Jeremie Renier, Martina Gusman
  • Directors: Pablo Trapero
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: Spanish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Strand Releasing
  • DVD Release Date: April 2, 2013
  • Run Time: 109 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #171,088 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


Gripping... Edgy... Majestic... Epic --The Hollywood Reporter

A muscular, heartfelt movie --The Guardian

Raw... Powerful... A must-see film --The Argentina Independent

Product Description

In the Villa Virgin , a shantytown in the slums of Buenos Aires, Julian (Ricardo Darín, The Secret in Their Eyes, Carancho) and Nicolas (Jérémie Renier, In Bruges, Atonement), two priests and long-standing friends, work tirelessly to help the local people. Nicolas joins Julian in overseeing the construction of a hospital following the failure of a project he was leading in which paramilitary forces assassinated members of the community. Deeply troubled by his actions, Nicolas finds solace in Luciana (Martina Gusman, Carancho, Lion's Den), a young, attractive atheist social worker. As Nicholas' beliefs wane, tension and violence grow between the slum's drug-dealing cartels and when work on the hospital is halted by ministerial decree, the faith of the entire community is put to the test.

In Spanish with English subtitles

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
In the last ten years Ricardo Darin has been one of the most prominent Argentinean actors, following the steps of legends, such as Hector Alterio. In this film, he once again shows why this is the case when he plays the role of father Julian, a priests working in one of the many "villas" that have become commonplace not only in Argentina, but in many Latin American countries. Many of you may have been exposed to this connected to the "favelas" in Brazil by the movie City of God (English Subtitled). In this case Julian's goal is to finish the construction of a hospital that would be the biggest one in the continent. The project has started and stalled several times through time, going back to the early 1900s, and the building has become known as the White Elephant.

Besides the challenge of completing a project like this, Julian faces the challenge of being terminally ill and having to keep that truth bottled inside so as to not lose traction. He has to think of the future, so he procures the help of Nicolas, a friend and priest that has suffered a deep psychological shock when a group of indigenous Indians he was helping in the Amazon were wiped out. The two will try to bring this project to fruition while battling the many challenges that arise in connection with lack of funds, the drug war inside the villa, and temptations that present themselves and threaten to derail everything.

The acting is definitely high level from both Darin and Renier. I have noticed that when I see Darin acting I sometimes forget I am watching a movie and feel like I am in a room with him having a conversation. He also has an uncanny ability to convey complex emotions without uttering a single word.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Argentinean film "White Elephant" details the struggles of a local priest servicing a Buenos Aries slum. While its depiction of poverty and violence are potent and unpleasant, I was struck also by the film's humanity. Despite the inherent danger and lawlessness ever present, there is a pleasing balance of people dedicated to making the shantytown more habitable. In an era where reform and repair have been repeatedly promised to this impoverished community, they have learned that any such commitment is short-lived at best. The title "White Elephant" refers to a massive unfinished hospital that serves as the centerpiece for the rundown neighborhood. A beacon of failed promises, it is the staging ground and home of the clergy and volunteers that have dedicated themselves to the underprivileged. Battling disease, rival crime factions, drug trafficking, and a militia that invades the slums with abandon, the priest is a revered and respected presence.

Ricardo Darin (The Secret in Their Eyes) plays the man of God who has learned to become incredibly down to earth and pragmatic. He brings in a French priest and childhood friend, Jérémie Renier, to assist him while concealing some ulterior motives. Renier is somewhat shell shocked from his last assignment and seeks solace in the arms of a comely volunteer (Martina Gusman). Seeing the conditions in the slum doesn't do a lot to bolster Renier's faith and his involvement in matters becomes increasingly secular. In many ways, this is a story about his journey. Can he still make a difference? Does he have the fortitude and self assurance of his old friend? As violence strikes close to home, the priests are forced to select sides. But there are no winners when everyone is out for vengeance and/or justice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Moving Argentinean Film November 4, 2013
This is the latest from acclaimed Argentinean director Pablo Traper (`Carancho', and `Lion's Den') and he has teamed up with Ricardo Darin again who starred in `Carancho' but has graced some classics. This is about the work the Catholic Church does in deprived areas. Set in the slums of Buenos Aires in a place known as `Villa Virgin'; where they have been trying to build a community hospital since 1937.

Father Julian (Darin) is working with his long time friend father Nicolas (Jeremie Renier -`The kid with a bike', `My Way' and `In Bruges'); they are helped by volunteers one of which is an atheist social worker in it for socialist reasons. They have to deal with the drug gangs and turf wars, a police force that is as violent as the gangs and grinding poverty. We also have questions of faith and Sainthood and the inevitability that action for change will always lead to conflict.

This is one of those films that unashamedly pulls on your heart strings, and it certainly got mine. The musical score is excellent as well as is the soundtrack. All of the acting is par excellence and it is obvious that for some of the cast they had never been in front of a camera before. Darin is a tour de force as always but Jeremie Renier has genuine on screen chemistry with Martina Gusman playing the social worker Luciana (she too was in `Carancho'and `Lion's Den'). The issues it tackles it does so in a grown up way but as I said it is very hard to remain detached when you see what is taking place. This is in Spanish with a touch of French all translated well and runs for 105 minutes and I was left very moved by the end and can only recommend thoroughly.
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