Matar a un hombre
- English subtitles
Despite the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and the Circle of Netherlands Film Journalists award at the Rotterdam Film Festival, no Dutch distributor dared to give Matar a un hombre a cinema release. At Pluk the film gets what it deserves: a big screen in front of a large audience.
It’s one of Pluk’s reasons for being: to rescue films that slip through the cracks of the system. Films that, somewhere in the chain from filmmaker to audience, have unjustly fallen by the wayside. Not every Pluk title is suitable for a wide release – sometimes they are just too unique. Right at home at Pluk, but pretty hopeless for a regular Wednesday night in the cinema.
But where Matar a un hombre is concerned, Dutch distributors really missed a brilliant film. With extraordinary restraint and economy, Chilean director Alejandro Fernández Almendras tells a universal and timeless story. A fairy tale of the traditional, brutal kind, which at the same time fits in perfectly with the current era of social tension, apparently just as bad in Chile as in The Netherlands. Keywords: respectable citizen, unsafe neighbourhood, gangs, street crime, wife and children harassed, the bureaucratic obstacles of the law, and what to do then?
Like a South-American cousin to Michael Haneke and Krzysztof Kieslowski, Almendras confronts the audience with their own limited and unreliable moral compasses – while leaving his protagonist (and, therefore, us) hardly any room to choose. He takes the viewer sternly by the hand, step by step, one thing leads to another, just hang in there, and if you say A, you will pass B and the rest and finally end up at Z.
We regularly see the protagonist from the front. The man doesn’t say much, all the better for us to read his thoughts. House, neighbourhood, hospital, court, woods: everything exudes the same atmosphere. One world with one goal and no way out. Fun? No, of course not. But very good indeed.
Translation: Marjan Westbroek