fredag 28 december 2012

Penumbra (2011)

One thing that impresses me a lot is when filmmakers manage to pull off a scenario in a confined space such as just a room or as in Adrián García and Ramiro García Boglianos Penumbra; a rundown apartment just an hour before a solar eclipse. Another impressive gimmick that the movie uses is that the story evolves in real time, everything unfolds during 90 minutes and although it is not entirely successful for reasons I will discuss later, it is still fairly skillfully orchestrated. Also, I am a sucker for thrillers with an occult tint, which means Penumbra fills all these three quotas.

Marga, a Spanish woman working in Buenos Aires for two months every year, is trying to rent out an apartment that she and her sister owns. She meets who she thinks is the potential customer outside the apartment but is a bit ticked off by the man, but relents as he offers her four times the rent as long as they can close the deal immediately. More and more odd people arrive as they wait for the real client and Marga starts to get more and more suspicious. All of this takes place just an hour before a solar eclipse and we in the audience know that something is about to happen.

The Bogliano brothers’ does do several things right, the story is both interesting and full of black comedy. It may not lead to any mind bending revelations in the end, but does manage to hold you in its grip for the entirety of the movie which is fortunate since there are a couple of nagging mishaps on the way. First, and most off-putting, the character of Marga is not quite someone you root for. She is basically a prejudiced asshole, rude and hostile towards everyone "beneath" her. She is, quite frankly, a bitch and it is VERY hard to actually care about her enough to make you want her to survive. The pacing is a bit off as well, the movie takes its sweet time getting to its inevitable conclusion. This would probably have been a good thing if you didn’t spend so much time wanting Marga to get shot in the head. Heck, even the weirdoes wanting her apartment have more pleasant personalities, albeit with a more sinister agenda on their minds. Marga just wants lots of money and to hook up with her lover, a married man.

Ok, so the lead is hard to like and it moves at a sometimes slow pace but Penumbra is still a decent thriller that holds its tension until the end. I'd definitely recommend it, just try not to hate Marga too much.

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