Benjamín Naishtat’s Argentinian mystery Rojo follows Claudio (Darío Grandinetti), a prominent lawyer whose life begins to unravel after an odd encounter with a stranger. Set in 1975, Rojo’s Argentina is poised on the brink of a coup d’état. The film’s characters are influenced in various ways by the increasing threat of political upheaval. While Claudio struggles to make professional decisions, his daughter Paula works on a school drama performance, unaware of her own connection to a web of darkness that steadily closes in.
Although the film’s plot revolves around Claudio and his associates, through them we feel the weight of a whole country in crisis. The story unfolds with a snowballing cause-and-effect structure. Noir-esque moments of suspense make scenes of 1970s domesticity seem inherently disturbing. Tension builds as scene after scene introduces discomfort and alienation between the characters. Rojo’s scenes are long and slow-paced, with an often motionless camera. This creates a heavy gaze that takes in not only characters and dialogue, but also the world that passes by around them. Visual techniques like shallow depth of field, slow motion and tilt shift are used, giving the film a poetic feel that is both beautiful and unsettling.
There’s a Hanekean quality to the mystery story, with questions repeatedly posed but rarely answered. The film’s central heart is not the details of the plot, but its atmosphere of tension and suspicion. A detective investigating a man’s disappearance claims that for him the world is only “black and white”. The statement is like a daydream, an impossible wish to simplify state collapse into the easy categories of good and evil. If only it were that easy.
Rojo is a tense portrait of an era seen through one ordinary citizen. Its ambiguity touches on the frustrating, but the atmosphere offers a haunting insight into a complex national struggle.
CAST: Darío Grandinetti, Andrea Frigerio, Alfredo Castro
DIRECTOR: Benjamín Naishtat
WRITER: Benjamín Naishtat
SYNOPSIS: Against the background of political upheaval in 1970s Argentina, a prosperous lawyer finds his life taking a challenging turn after an encounter with a stranger turns sour.
We greatly appreciate that a preview screening to this film was provided by Luxbox and 1844 Entertainment.