RABIA (2009) Review

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RABIA (2009) Review

rabia_02.jpgSebastián Cordero's third film Rabia is a romantic thriller about José María (Gustavo Sánchez Parra), a construction worker on the run for killing his foreman who hides in the mansion where his girlfriend Rosa (Martina García) works as a housekeeper. Rabia had its World Premiere in the Contemporary World Cinema program at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival, where Diana Sanchez wrote in her program capsule: "Rabia is an incisive commentary on the frustration of Latin Americans living in Spain. Victims of racism and paternalism, they must endure humiliation in order to keep their jobs, send money home and attain a better future. Often robbed of dignity, many are forced to live like José María--hidden, the unwanted other in Spanish daily life." Rabia now boasts its US premiere at the 2010 Palm Springs International Film Festival.


Cordero adapted his script for Rabia from the eponymous novel by Argentine writer Sergio Bizzio (whose short story "Cinismo" was the basis for the 2007 film XXY). In his Director's Statement, Cordero explained: "The 'rage' in Rabia alludes to José María's growing fury at being denied something basic: respect, love, a family. He rebels by hiding, becoming invisible. José María thinks this is his only option, but his situation is contradictory and hopeless, because ultimately he doesn't want to disappear."

I am in complete agreement, however, with Howard Feinstein at Screen Daily who observed that, unfortunately, even with Guillermo Del Toro's imprimatur, Rabia comes off as a "thin thriller". Feinstein pointedly criticized that Rabia's "promotion as a commentary on the ill treatment of Latin American immigrants working in Spain is a ruse that goes nowhere." Final analysis? "The rats living with José Maria in the attic are more energized."

Cross-published on The Evening Class.

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SjeksterFebruary 2, 2010 5:50 PM

I just watched it at this year's IFFR (and loved it), and in the Q&A at the end they said that it was NOT meant as a commentary on immigrants in spain, although it does make for an interesting backdrop in today's society.