Made in: Argentina
Language: Spanish
Director: Pablo Trapero
Starring: Ricardo Darin, Martina Gusman, Darío Valenzuela, Carlos Weber, José Luis Arias, Loren Acuña, José Manuel Espeche, Gabriel Almirón
Year: 2010

Synopsis: Ibañez Sosa (Ricardo Darin), once a practicing lawyer, has lost his license and now makes a living as a "carancho" (which means vulture in Spanish). Employed by an illegal firm, he works as an ambulance-chasing injury attorney who appears at the scene of traffic accidents. His "clients" are usually poor working-class folks that he appears to help, but eventually swindles after pocketing the lion's share of their lawsuit settlements.

Sosa often resorts to outright staging accidents, colluding with paramedics and sometimes even cops. However, a career of ripping off innocents has taken its toll and he wants out.

Things change when he meets Luján (Martina Gusman), a young idealistic emergency room doctor who has recently arrived in Buenos Aires. Overworked and constantly sleep-deprived, she also takes on shifts as a late night paramedic.

Sosa meets her at the scene of an accident, and an unlikely romance develops. And when he takes on a traffic accident case involving multiple victims, Sosa hatches a daring scheme to cash out, escape with Luján, and leave the criminal life behind forever.

The Good: The acting is strong, and Ricardo Darin plays his role convincingly and with ease. Carancho is intense, compelling, and director Pablo Trapero creates a dark, claustrophobic atmosphere that works perfectly with the story he's trying to tell. A good portion of the film also concentrates on Martina Gusman's character, which does well in balancing the narrative.

The villains are truly despicable, the grittiness makes you care about the protagonists (who are likeable despite their flaws), and there's even a good deal of humor as well. Although you might guess what might happen at the end, the film is pretty unpredictable.

The Bad: Carancho jumps right into the story, and the quick pace makes elements of the story a little hard to understand at first. The nature of the insurance scams that Sosa involves himself in might confuse viewers, and trying to figure out just who everyone is might take a little while too.

Despite Ricardo Darin turning out another strong performance, I wouldn't say that this is his finest film to date.

Who would like this movie: Carancho is for you if you like foreign films, dark, gritty crime dramas, and/or film noir. The story would obviously be much more meaningful to those who understand this side of life in Buenos Aires.

Although the film is very strong overall, it's not spectacular but worth seeing if you're a fan of the genre. The movie contains a decent amount of violence too, so it's not the best choice if you just want a quiet night at home.

(3 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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