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August 29, 2012

Movie Review: Penumbra (2012, IFC Films)

Directed by Adrian and Ramiro Garcia Bogliano

Starring Cristina Brondo, Camila Bordonaba and Berta Muniz

Run Time: 90 min.

Marga (Christina Brondo) is a highly motivated, arrogant and successful businesswoman from Spain on assignment in Buenos Aires, a city she hates and who’s people she despises.  While in the Argentine capitol on a day the whole population is waiting to view a rare solar eclipse, she must also find a new tenant for her families decrepit apartment. Rapidly losing her patience, she comes across the mysterious Jorge (Berta Muniz) lurking outside the front door, who informs her that he has a client willing to pay four times what she is asking in rent. There’s just one catch though, the paperwork must be signed immediately. As Marga waits to complete the transaction, several of Jorges associates suspiciously appear at the apartment, and before long Marga discovers that their plan may mean a tragic and violent end for all involved.

As far as I know this is the first movie from Argentina that I have seen, and in all honesty it wasn't bad at all. In fact, its actually got a lot of good things going for it.

What stood out most to me was the slick cinematography and enjoyable performances by all the main characters. Christina Brondo in the lead role does a great job of convincing you of what a devious and conniving bitch her character is, and you don't really have much remorse for her when things start to go sour. It fact, it was quite satisfying to see her take her lumps as the movie progressed towards its climax. All of the supporting cast was solid as well and it was their performances that kept me in the game and wanting to hang around for the ending. The cinematography added an almost surreal atmosphere to the film that was quite effective. This was also aided by the accompanying soundtrack that was a bit odd and eclectic, with a lot of booming bass cello that almost sounded like something you might hear in a beatnik coffee house of the mid 60‘s.

Now, whether or not this is a movie you are going to enjoy depends on how much of a fan you are of slow-burn thrillers. And this one is a slow-burn in every sense of the word. The pacing is quite methodical but does steadily quicken as you get past the one hour mark. Personally, I’ve never been much of a fan of these kinds of movies, as I just seem to lose interest and get frustrated with the lack of action, but the acting here was good enough that I stayed engaged throughout, with the hopes of the ending paying off for the time invested. The reveal and subsequent plot twist at the end were good enough to give it a thumbs up- It wasn't a mind-blower, in fact it was kinda what I figured it would be, but was satisfyingly violent and bloody nonetheless.

The disc itself comes in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1
This is a Spanish language film with English subtitles. The lone extra is a theatrical trailer.

Although disappointingly short on extras, the feature is still worth a 7 out of 10 score. 

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