Lima 2014 Review: Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Differently In TO KILL A MAN

Lima 2014 Review: Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Differently In TO KILL A MAN
Jorge (Daniel Candia) is a meek, introverted park ranger who spends most of his day alone in the forest. On the way home one night, he runs into a group of thugs led by the neighborhood bully, Kalule (Daniel Antivilo), who intimidates him and steals his diabetes medication. When he sees his father unwilling to do anything, Jorge's teenage son intercedes and ends up getting shot, landing in the hospital for his trouble. Shooting himself to claim self-defense, Kalule goes to prison for two years and once released, starts harassing Jorge's family. When the authorities turn a blind eye, this quiet man takes matters into his own hands, armed with nothing but a shotgun.

If this sounds familiar, it's because it follows the basic outline of a revenge movie, a genre which has been around for quite a while and has threatened to grow repetitive on more than one occasion. Familiarity is not a problem, however; To Kill a Man ("Matar a un Hombre") from Chilean director Alejandro Fernández Almendras, is a different kind of film from what the plotline would have you believe. It's apparently based on a true story, and that makes sense; this is pretty close to how this situation would play out in real life.

Almendras has made a meditative, slow-burn study of the psychological effect this situation has on his main character, an ineffective introvert who rarely stands up for himself. Jorge is no Charles Bronson; it takes him a while to decide on a course of action, and the movie follows him every step of the way, taking its time while building up to its low-key conclusion.

In a revenge movie, one expects a moment of catharsis and release, an inevitable surge of violence leading to the visceral thrill of seeing despicable people get what's coming to them. The remorseless Kalule deserves it, but things work out differently, and certainly not in a hail of gunfire and bloodshed. This is not a fantasy; some people clearly wouldn't know how to deal with the moral implications, and Jorge is an example, at no point being better off due to his actions. Candia, whose weary visage is in nearly every scene, effectively portrays his character's hurt and confusion purely through his facial expressions.

Obviously, this is not for all tastes; its pacing is as passive as Jorge's demeanor, and it will test the patience of anyone expecting something more akin to Death Wish and others of its ilk. For those willing to give it a chance, they'll find that Almendras has given a fresh spin to an often-trod genre, one that goes much deeper than your average actioner. It's a revenge movie for the art house crowd.

The movie premiered at the festival on August 9, playing consecutively on the next two days. Click here for more information.
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Alejandro Fernandez AlmendrasLimaTo Kill a Man

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