Saturday 27 April 2013

"White Elephant" (Metro 26/04/13)

White Elephant (15) 105 mins ****

The increasingly reliable writer-director Pablo Trapero here structures a film around a real-life landmark that symbolises Argentina’s internal chaos: the Ciudad Oculta, a once-marbled, since-abandoned medical facility in Buenos Aires that’s been taken over (and stripped bare) by gangs, junkies and the similarly dispossessed. In trying to limit the bodycount, weary pastor Julián (Ricardo Darin) has himself started to crack; his protégé Nicolás (Jérémie Renier)’s adventurous, hands-on approach to soul-saving further heightens local tensions. Trapero avoids flashy, City of God-style sensationalism: the drama emerges organically from the characters and this striking, byzantine location – which makes it even more jolting when a riot suddenly breaks out or zinging bullets threaten his leads’ best intentions. The result’s an engrossing study of committed, conflicted professionals coming under fire that’ll be of particular relevance for seasoned NHS-watchers: here, but for the grace of God (or Government)…

White Elephant is in selected cinemas nationwide.

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