Rosarigasinos (2001): Argentina – directed by Rodrigo Grande
Not rated by the MPAA – contains some violence, some language, and some sexual references
Have you ever thought about how different countries all have their own gangster movies? America’s The Godfather and Goodfellas have set the bar there, Japan has a plethora of Yakuza films, and England (at least recently) gets Guy Ritchie. Well, what if you moved the stories and characters to Argentina, and tried again? That’s almost like what Rosarigasinos turns out to be.
At the same time, imagine Butch and Sundance survived the shootout in Bolivia and instead served 30 years in an Argentinean jail. Then they are released, and nothing is quite the same as they remembered.
Rosarigasinos is an odd mix of everything above. It is a gangster movie, or is at least a movie about gangsters. Tito and Castor are old buddies and finally are released after serving 30 years in jail for (it sounds like) a variety of crimes. They are eager to reunite with the old gang who used to party all night long and have plenty of money. But first they have to find their own stash of money which they hid away before heading to jail. Unfortunately, it’s no longer where they left it and they’re not sure where it ended up.
Fatso, the only remaining gangster, is also the only one that volunteers to help them out. Of course, in gangster land “helping out” means finding them a new job. The job here is an attempt on an armored truck. To leave parts of the story a mystery, suffice to say that the heist does not go according to plan and the key to the money may lie with a prostitute Tito used to love. When she reenters his life after 30 years he’s not entirely sure how to react, especially since he sings a song about how her hands have been his jail bars for the past 30 years.
The plot is not the most important part of the film, though. It’s also a buddy story, of sorts, with Tito and Castor being the buddies. But their relationship, and indeed much of the film, doesn’t follow the conventions of any American or Japanese gangster movie I have seen. It’s a comedy, of sorts, but the comedy also doesn’t follow the conventions American viewers might expect. The film is sort of about the nostalgia that they feel reemerging into a changed world, wishing it were more similar to the days of their youth. They don’t respond in the same way to women, their friends have all gone separate ways, and there are new trees on the streets they once walked. The film is as much about them recapturing the glory days as it is gangsters and stolen money.
I am very glad that Synapse Films decided to restore and release this, especially since it’s from a country whose film culture I’m not familiar with. Additionally, it’s a very different film than many viewers would expect, and usually in subtle ways. I’m not sure I enjoyed it as much as I might have if I were Argentinean, but perhaps once I get more familiar with their films I’ll be able to appreciate it more. It’s a fine film, with convincing performances from the two elderly leads. Both have been mainstays of Argentine films, as far as I can tell, and Tito (Federico Luppi) appeared in Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. For a directorial debut it’s a great effort. It is directed with enough style to support the story and characters, but never gets carried away. It’s a bit light on the action, though what is shown is quite enjoyable. But this wasn’t meant to be an action film, so that’s not a problem at all. For anyone interested in the films of Argentina, or those intrigued by gangster films from other countries, this is definitely worth seeking out.
Originally reviewed at 24Framespersecond.net