Review- To Kill a Man

Lest I sound like I’m sitting here griping about cultural vegetables after yesterday’s post and today’s which include similar conclusions about films that are rather different, but have been pigeonholed similarly for the purposes of the American market. There are certainly past examples of my enjoying films that don’t fit the Classical Hollywood Style to a great extent. Perhaps the most noticeable over the past few years has been this film. So what is it here that rings a bit hollow.

Jorge (Daniel Candia) middle-class family man whose neighborhood has become overrun by a fringe class of street thugs. Jorge’s teenage son, Jorgito (Ariel Mateluna), boldly tries to stand up for his father, which only serves to unleash the bully’s terrorizing reign of threats upon the family. Jorge and his wife, Martha (Alejandra Yañez), seek protection from the legal system but they remain vulnerable. As Jorge’s family suffers from fear and humiliating anguish, the situation paints him as a deficient patriarch-until he’s cornered into defending what’s his.

Much of this is established before the thrust of the film is embarked upon, this being incited by the thug, Kalule (Daniel Antivilo), being released from prison. The initial set-up is simple and quietly menacing, the inability of conventional means to stop this crook is predictable and lacking drama. It merely being a table-setting scene makes it OK the decisions later on are where the lack of impact is felt.

The reason this is so is that there is a very naturalistic, visually distant, abundantly real-time approach to the proceeding following the zenith of suspense in the film. The film does not quite fall into a paint-by-numbers approach but it instead realities instead on the realities of a not entirely unique scenario to build the impact and staunchly refuses non-diegetic amplification of stakes and emotions consciously. Which mean the soundtrack is natural or sound effects lacking score wherever possible. The wide shot, all-too-absent from most cinema is in the forefront seeking to communicate the time and space Jorge has to interact with as he copes with his decisions.

Aberrant event in his nature aside the film tries to work with this reverse notion of the break in the routine occurring early and the change in tenor it takes later. Compare this (again if you will) to something like Cannibal the mundane carries wait because the quotidian activities of that protagonist are typically far out of the norm. Here the return of the norm post departure is not heightened nearly as much.

Thus, it should be clear that as a thriller it does not work in my estimation. Does it work then as a drama, especially considering the fact that drama is the foundation of all other genres? It comes closer but it ends in such a way such that it doesn’t fully explore its potential and instead leaves one wondering about the form of the story wondering: as it’s based on real events, would it not work better as a documentary? To not try and implement my own creativity on the film I acknowledge it comes close, but for the approach taken it felt it lacked a button to fully connect.