1980s Buenos Aires is a gorgeous setting, both aesthetically and socio-politically. Newly democratic Argentina is finding a new narrative. Wealthy families, fattened on the old regime, are suddenly cracking open. Sexual mores are being questioned. Fine adjustments to social strata are still being made.
Against this background, Meta places a standard, police-procedural/crime thriller. She then dresses it in highly-charged, homo-erotic colours and this is where the flaws show: as a crime thriller it is simplistic and unrealistic, and one senses that the storyline is really just a framework for the real story.
The psychological thrills are to be found in the character of Inspector Chavez, played by the wonderful Demian Bichir, Argentina’s answer to Harvey Keitel. His developing and ever-changing relationship with the rookie cop Gomez – played by the criminally handsome Chino Darin – is what really drives this film. Meta’s skills as a director really show in the scenes between these two, moving them through contempt, discomfort, respect, gratitude and sexual attraction. This is spiced up even more by the character of Kevin, played by multi-talented singer/choreographer/director, Carlos Casella.
Visually, the film is a delight. Meta could have overused the beauty that is Buenos Aires, instead allowing her to show herself in tantalizing glimpses. Some scenes were breathtakingly surreal, such as a dozen polo horses on the run in a deserted street in the middle of the night. Others were bleak snap-shots of the deeper layer of this amazing city.
This film is impossible not to be mesmerized by, even if one leaves a little disappointed. It certainly never lets up the pace and it has enough twists to keep the audience engaged.
Meta is a director to watch.
Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Rating out of 10: 8