Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Everybody has a Plan, Especially Twins

You would think paranoia would run deep amongst identical twins.  That whole doppelganger possibility is just unnerving.  One existentially morose pediatrician does indeed assume his twin’s life under suitably shady circumstances in Ana Piterbarg’s Everybody has a Plan (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.

Frankly, Agustín has no reason to be so miserable.  He has a thriving practice in Buenos Aires and an intelligent professional wife.  They are on the brink of adopting an infant, but it is safe to say she is far more enthusiastic than he.  In fact, he rather precipitously puts the kibosh on their plans, falling into a depressive stupor shortly thereafter.  However, relief arrives in the unlikeliest form when his prodigal twin Pedro unexpectedly pays a visit.  Terminally ill, the deadbeat brother wants a final favor from Agustín.

Following the grass-is-greener line of reasoning, Agustín takes Pedro’s place in the hardscrabble Tigre Delta, but he did not exactly do his due diligence.  Before long, Agustín learns in addition to beekeeping, he is also now a part-time member of a ruthless gang of kidnappers.  Still, it is not all bad.  In fact, he quickly develops a relationship with Rosa, the young woman who helps tend his hives.

Piterbarg really puts the “slow” in “slow burner.”  She drenches the noir-ish morality tale in swampy atmosphere, but her pacing would generously be described as languid.  Daniel Fanego provides a genuine sense of menace as the sociopathic ringleader, Adrián, but our anti-hero is far more inclined to rumination than action.  Fortunately, brooding and seething are definitely well within Viggo Mortensen’s power zone.  He keeps audiences vested and focused, despite the film’s determination to takes its sweet time.  However, the question remains, does his morally problematic Agustín qualify as an “evil twin?”

Having lived in Argentina and Venezuela during his early years, co-producer Mortensen is clearly comfortable with the language and setting.  Presumably, Piterbarg was aiming for a rustic suspense vibe somewhat in the tradition of Night of the Hunter, but the result is closer to contemporary Latin American art cinema, deeply rooted in its environment, but elevating character and tone above plot and dialogue.  Stylish but often maddeningly reserved, Everybody has a Plan is recommended mostly for diehard fans of Mortensen and Argentine cinema when it opens this Friday (3/22) in New York at the Angelika Film Center and the AMC Empire.