Saturday, November 03, 2012

Elefante Blanco (White Elephant)

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary this is the definition of "white elephant":

a : a property requiring much care and expense and yielding little profit
b : an object no longer of value to its owner but of value to others
c : something of little or no value

According to Pablo Trapero's film all three definitions apply to his film and story as tells about life in a real-life Buenos Aires urban slum that surrounds an unfinished sixty-years-old abandoned hospital that was supposed to become "the largest hospital" in Latin America. A true "white elephant". So by now you can imagine that this film is another portrait of social realism but this time in my opinion Trapero lost his great golden touch as decided that his protagonists had to be two Catholic priests and while watching this story is impossible to see story in only one direction as to me film perhaps is more about another "white elephant": the Catholic Church.

But is his storytelling style what really bothered me as has an extremely weak screenplay that toys with the misery in slums life (like happens in many countries of the world and especially in Latin America), idealistic priests that end up killed (like many priests in Latin America), priests caught in between the Catholic Church hierarchy and both Church and country government politics, and most unconvincingly (a very lost opportunity) toys with priests breaking their celibacy vow. Themes that are daily news in Latin American and could have been interesting if well-developed, especially if he had focused more clearly in the second "white elephant" I mention.

Performances are adequate but nothing saves this movie that no matter how you wish to see story leaves you with a bitter taste and a very unpleasant feeling of disgust.  Saying all this while remembering that I have seen a large quota of Latin American films set in slums and have highly enjoyed the social realism style, the story and even the necessary violence.

Hard for me to say the following, as is a Pablo Trapero movie, but I cannot recommend this movie and suggest you skip it.


Watch trailer @MOC

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