The shady past of an ambulance-chasing lawyer threatens his unlikely romance with an idealistic doctor.
I’m not exactly well versed in South American cinema, my knowledge stretches as far as ‘Amores Perros’, ‘To Kill A Man’, ‘El Topo’, ‘City of God’ and ‘The Secret In Their Eyes’ to name a few, but overall my knowledge is limited. When reaching out for suggestions on what to watch, this film fell into my lap and I was pleasantly surprised when I realised it starred none other than Ricardo Darin from the excellent ‘The Secret In Their Eyes’. I was off to a good start.
‘Carancho’ translated as ‘The Vulture’ summarises Darin’s role in this film, as an ambulance chasing lawyer (Sosa) who makes his money off other peoples misfortune, trapped in a continuous cycle of deceit and depression. In a country where some 8,000 deaths and 120,000 people are injured on Argentinian roads every year, what takes place is all clearly very real, which makes it all the more unforgiving to watch. Darin is captivating on screen, believable and likeable despite his shady occupation. It is difficult to think of anyone else more suitable for the role, and a stern reminder of the caliber of actor that he is. Opposite him, is the director Pablo Trapero’s wife Martina Gusman (Lujan), who plays the junior medic expertly well, desperate to escape the cycle she is trapped in. No sleep, overworked, under-rewarded, her desperation is similar but so very different to Darin’s character.
It is no wonder then that these two cross paths. Both chasing accidents but with very different agendas, yet both in similar personal situations. Taking place mostly at night, those who have recently watched Nightcrawler will know just how claustrophobic a film with little or no light can be. This is only heightened, much like Nightcrawler, by the constant visual representation of accidents and questionable money fuelled actions. It is uncomfortable and disturbing viewing, keeping the viewer edge, and ultimately stops the film from disintegrating into a predictable love story.
While the plot becomes a little detracted as it builds to it’s conclusion, many of its flaws can be overlooked in favour of it’s gripping realism and excellent direction. Referring back to my limited knowledge of the region, I will admit that I am unsure if this film is acting as a metaphor for the level of corruption across more than just these types of lawyers and the rise in these types of claims. You often see corruption as a common theme in this region, but to tar them all with the same brush and the same aim would be potentially unfair. However, irrespective of the specific, isolated political and social messages contained in the film, there is a rare emotional and psychological depth to Carancho that makes this an exciting, disturbing but enthralling film noir.