The nameless recluse at the center of this noirish thriller is a mass of contradictions. An epileptic taxidermist with a photographic memory, he is so emotionally detached from the world around him that he never smiles and barely speaks, yet he harbors a pronounced superiority complex. He shrinks from guns and hunting, but watches impassively as men are shot dead. Convinced that he can commit the perfect robbery, the taxidermist takes advantage of a criminal opportunity that soon spirals out of control. A hypnotic unease hangs over the film, due partly to Checco Varese's wide-screen lensing, which dwarfs the characters against their bucolic but menacing woodland surroundings; partly to the constant hum of Lucio Godoy's murmuring piano-driven score; and partly to the unsettling central performance of Ricardo Darin as a character both off-putting and sympathetic -- and impossible to read. The late Argentine writer-director Fabián Bielinsky (Nine Queens) earns high marks for atmospheric intensity and some inventive narrative devices, but the protagonist proves so opaque that the viewer never really gets drawn into his plight.
Fabian BielinskyRicardo Darín, Dolores Fonzi, Pablo Cedrón, Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Jorge D'Elía, Alejandro Awada, Rafael Castejón, Manuel Rodal, Walter Reyno, Alejandro GancéFabian BielinskyMariela Besuievski, Pablo Bossi, Samuel Hadida, Gerardo HerreroIFC First Take