Monday, September 29, 2008
Burnt Money (2000, Marcelo Pineyro)
A couple of posts ago I wrote about a movie named Semen: A Love Sample and in that post I wrote about another movie named The Method (El Metodo in spanish) and how much I was impressed by it. Well, after rating El Metodo 4 stars on netflix, netflix then recommended me this film. I clicked on it to read more and found out that it shared some of the cast of The Method and was also directed by the same director. So, after reading what it was about, seeing some really great reviews on netflix, seeing the high star rating, and then also taking into account the amount of talent involved I said "why not?" and gave it a shot and I am not sorry that I did.
Burnt Money (or Plata Quemada as it is known in Spanish) is an Argentinian film set in 1965 about 2 gay lovers and crime partners named Nene played by Leonardo Sbaraglia (you might know him from Intacto which is another super awesome little film) and Angel played by Eduardo Noriega (you might know him from Open Your Eyes) as they have to hide out with another crime partner (Pablo Echarri) after their latest robbery goes bad. Forced to live together in a small apartment and almost never able to leave they slowly begin to lose their minds as the police chase for them only becomes more intense.
What makes Burnt Money such a fast paced and fun ride is that the interactions between the characters is just well written and great stuff. Those expecting a hard boiled crime drama will get just that but the film also throws in enough comedy and also enough human drama into the mix that you will find yourself truly gripped by the story.
Now, the fact that there is a gay love story going on might scare away a lot of viewers or it might make a couple of people cringe in that it seems like an indie film cliche but in this case it is also one of the couple of decisions that makes the film feel different from other heist gone bad films. This added layer of tension between the two lead characters only makes everything more intense when shit starts to go bad.
It should also be noted that the decision for the lead characters to be a gay couple wasn't done to be edgy, or different, or anything like that either. No. The reason the filmmakers decided to go with this angle is just because the whole film is also based on a true story. So, knowing that everything you are watching is actually based on real events and knowing that everything actually went down this way only makes the film that much more interesting and great to watch.
However great I thought the film was I also had one giant issue with the film that I still don't know how to work out in my mind about how I feel about it. I loved,loved,loved the first hour and 40 minutes of the film and was just about ready to call it a overlooked little masterpiece of a film until the final act happened.
The final couple of minutes of this film is just plain odd in how over the top it feels. Characters begin to act crazy and different from one moment to the next and the film only continues to go more and more over the top until the final couple of minutes. I would have a major problem with this in another movie but the fact that this really did happen just like this in real life makes me just feel confused about my feelings towards it. I guess I cant hate the films ending because it actually did end like that in real life but I can however hate how odd the tone shift was handled by the director. I just wish he would have ended on a much more subtle, or at least quiet, note than the all of a sudden over the top note that he decided to go with. It really is a shame because everything preceding it is excellent stuff.
Still, don't let the final couple of minutes scare you away from the film. This film also goes into my pile of overlooked gems which I feel proud of about of kind of finding. It is definitely worth your time if you are willing to give it a chance.