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An almost perfect Argentinean thriller
abisio9 May 2010
"Carancho" is a bird of prey; an animal that attack and feed on wounded animals. In this movie it's the pseudonym of lawyers that follow (and sometime stage) accidents in order to collect from insurance and scam the real victims (and the insurances companies too).

This kind of activity requires the help of corrupt cops, doctors and lots of low level people. These of course involves crude violence, filmed with taste but shocking none less.

The action was shoot mostly at night in San Justo (within Buenos Aires state), a very depressing location. This setup creates a very dark but absolutely real environment (filmed inside real hospitals and streets ) far from the artificially stylish of "DARK NIGHT". Believe me, what you see is (even when it seems absurd) is the real thing.

Ricardo Darin (from the "Son of the Bride" and the Oscar winner "The Secret in her eyes") as the repented lawyer and Martina Guzman (the director's wife and a real revelation) as a drug addicted doctor give outstanding performances, but the supporting cast quite as good.

Pablo Trapero (the director) was able to orchestrate an almost perfect movie (acting and locations, realistic violence, excellent camera work) with a minimum budget; but failed in the story itself ( which he wrote).

The love story between the two main characters slows down the movie a bit. There are a couple of important situations left unexplained.

In brief; perhaps a little more work on the history could improve this movie but is still far better and effective than 98% of movies currently in theaters.
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A Dark Story About A Dark Subject
gradyharp13 June 2011
CARANCHO ('Vulture' or 'a bird of prey; an animal that attack and feed on wounded animals') is a disturbing film from the opening sequences until the end. Before any story begins we are given the information (superimposed over black and white photographs for broken glass and bodies on a street) about the number of automobile accidents and deaths (in excess of 8,000) each year, the leading cause of deaths in Argentina. This grim fact has produced an even more grim industry - ambulance chasing lawyers who follow and even at times stage accidents in order to collect from insurance and scam the real victims and the insurances companies too. This industry requires the participation of doctors, paramedical personnel and police on the take. Every aspect of this horrendous situation is played out in this tersely written (Alejandro Fadel, Martín Mauregui, Santiago Mitre, and Pablo Trapero who also directs). It is a tough film to watch but does serve to alert the audience to a major crime industry that though set in Buenos Aires, Argentina is prevalent probably throughout the world.

Sosa (Ricardo Darín) is a lawyer who has lost his license form some unstated reason who is now working for a 'foundation' that falls into the category discussed above. He not only chases ambulances but also pays men to stage them so that he can collect money based on the fact that he works with the distraught families to win power of attorney for the injured or deceased, giving him access to the insurance money. His bosses are competitive and Sosa is repeatedly attacked physically a la mob style for his failure to perform. Sosa meets Luján (Martina Gusman), a beautiful young doctor who is at the beginning of her career and must work emergency rooms and ride in ambulances to administer to the injured or ill in order to gain experience to become a respected physician. They meet over an accident - Luján is giving aid to a victim and Sosa is planning to use the victim in his crime racket. Both Sosa and Luján seem to have occult senses of responsibility and ethics but life has brought them to a place where they must submerge their standards in order to survive: Luján happens to be a drug addicted 'to sustain the brutality of her work' and Sosa endangers the lives of innocent people to satisfy the bosses to whom he must bow in order to survive. It is this contrast between their passion for each other and their participation in the dark crime of 'caranchos' that provides the push/pull of their relationship, resulting in an ending few will predict.

Both Darín and Gusman are outstanding in very difficult roles, but the supporting cast - Carlos Weber, José Luis Arias, Fabio Ronzano, Loren Acuña, Gabriel Almirón, and José Manuel Espeche - is equally strong in smaller roles. This is a very dark film - in story, in locale (the San Justo region of Buenos Aires), and in the fact that it all takes place at night - but it carries information we all need to note and molds that information into a suspenseful thriller that is so well paced by director Pablo Tapero that every moment is filled with meaning.

Grady Harp
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Extraordinary film!
casch01015 October 2010
I consider Ricardo Darin is one of the best actors in the world. Period. He has been approached to become a "hollywood star" "a la Banderas and Bardem", but refused to. He is very OK in his native Argentina, and has been in four movies during five years. Trapero is a top-notch scriptwriter and director. Notwithstanding the emotional anxiety or even repulsion that the story itself and some scenes may convey, this is a phenomenal work of art film, cinematography, acting, direction, design and clothing. The romance between these two souls (one, dishonest, the other, weird and low self-esteem)is believable, and adds some suppleness to an otherwise very twisted and somewhat creepy story.
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Far, very far from the best Trapero
Marcelo_Dos_Santos25 November 2010
Knowing Pablo Trapero's previous works, I found myself thinking (three quarters into the movie) "Wow, it seems the guy lost it". Not a bad movie itself, good, strong, structured script, plenty of bad guys who are bad only to make a living but otherwise understand their victims' problems and motivations, but afflicted by some lack of style, narrative rhythm and, last but not least, a very poor acting and voice management by the female lead, Martina Gusman.

Otherwise beautiful,sexy and well planted in front of the contained, every-year-more-Arab-looking Darín, the conflicted, substance-sustained heroine (pun intended) fails to show the downfall of a reputation-seeking doctor, trapped in a war which is not hers, anchored to a love she didn't ask for and, nevertheless, makes part of the cruel disintegration of her world.

The nervous, shaking camera style of Trapero in this flick, adds tension to the tale but fails to remark some important dramatic points. He misses, too, regarding to acting direction, allowing some of the actors —not all, granted— to deploy "methodic" works (in the sense of Actor's Studio ones) which do more damage than good to the development of the plot.

All said, "Carancho" adds nothing to the brilliant Trapero's career, far away from his brilliant "Mundo Grúa" and "El bonaerense". Fairly enough, this one can be considered just one lesser work.

Worth watching? If you like claustrophobic, dark, miserable, sordid crime movie, but with not that good acting and directing, yes. If this isn't the case, look for Adrián Caetano's "Un oso rojo".
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Dark, moody film, superbly produced.
davidtraversa-14 November 2010
This movie is as perfect as any contemporary movie can be perfect nowadays. The uncompromising plot shows the very somber underside of the insurance business in all its corruption, corruption found in any other big business, as we are getting to know more and more every day just by reading the world news.

They show it really as mafia business.

Corrupt lawyers, corrupt police, corrupt doctors. Everybody and his grandmother is corrupt!! A very dark, very stark movie.

Quite-quite depressing to watch, but so very well done that it grabs you from the very beginning and doesn't let go. Road traffic in the big, polluted city, is the major protagonist, the core of the story, and it is pack and parcel of many outdoor scenes where the interminable string of vehicles running with their noise and pollution are a permanent reminder that every few minutes, inevitably, some accident will occur.

The music is so perfect following the story that just now I realize that there must have been music, because I don't remember any!!

The traffic accident victims, their pain, their waiting for an ambulance lying on the bare cement of the street, maybe with broken bones, in awful pain, any minute of waiting time an atrocious agony, and the ambulance taking forever to arrive..., to me those were intolerable scenes because I was a victim of accidents too and the whole nightmarish thing came back to my mind.

All the hospital scenes were PERFECT.

And the dismal public hospitals, with stained doors (dirt), lack of supplies, lack of doctors and nurses...,and the few available (for too many patients), dead tired without sleep due to so much overwork and underpaid.

No wonder then that they could make horrible mistakes! It couldn't be more depressing. Maybe it's my problem, but I prefer to see a comedy nowadays.

The length of this movie is PERFECT, not a minute too long, not a minute too short. The editing and the camera work just couldn't be better. All the actors sheer perfection too.

Only one question bothers me when it comes to script logic. At the very end, who was driving the white pick up? Because as far as I understood, Darin's character didn't have reliable friends to count on. It's the only flaw that I could notice in the whole movie.

Excellent, a truly excellent film.
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inside, outside, bizarre, continuous flow
RResende2 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
In the 60's there was a phenomenon in Latin-American literature that is today reduced to the word "boom". A very good number of writers throughout the continent began producing groundbreaking work, they broke every formula and introduced new possibilities to literature, unknown so far. Márquez, Rulfo, Llosa, and notably, in Argentina, Cortázar and Borges, among others. Today that trend still weaves its consequences (Chico Buarque has been a revelation as a writer, although Brazil is quite a different world). But i think that lately, those willing to explore new territories in narrative and storytelling have been working more in cinema. Márquez and Borges are 2 well known (and great!) film goers and critics. Anyway, Latin-American cinema today is the heir to the developments in Latin-American literature produced in the last 50 years. In the argentinean case, there was a major set-back in the country at the beginning of this century, corruption and incompetence led the country to bankruptcy, and the intellectual class rebels against that, so (like in Brazil!), argentinean cinema is usually densified by the social concerns of argentineans.

Literature and social context are, thus, the 2 great frames where a film like this is integrated.

And what a good film. The first thing done here is the establishment of a strange world, of people who live under different routines, performing different jobs, conquering the world in a different way, yet in the same sets of the ordinary "real" life, with which once in a while they intersect. The man, someone who chases people who've been run over by cars to collect the insurance money, and many times simulates the running over. The woman, who lives by night, as a doctor on site for first aid. And the insight into a corrupt underworld, where we only hint that somewhere close there are honest people. By itself this is a bizarre, tense, and cinematic world worth visiting. Over it, there is a layer of poetic sensitivity that eventually springs out of the male character, through his infatuation with the woman. So, on the core, we have a common story of a weak man who redeems himself because of love, but set in a strange repulsive yet fascinating world. This could be a short by Cortázar.

And on top of everything, the wheel that makes this world spin, is the boldness and visual power with which this is made. Practically every significant shot is enormous and without cuts. For how the camera is handled, we're entering the vast beautiful tradition of Orson Welles (that from Touch of Evil) as interpreted by the incredible Alfonso Cuarón, notably on a huge film, Children of Men. This camera is unobtrusive yet manages to be on it should be. It knows everything that's going to happen, and it plays with us to show us more often than not and off-field that's puts us away from the action only to find us as unaware of what's going on as every other character in the film. This is really top work, i don't remember seeing this kind of visual grammar so well manipulated recently. Quite apart from the production obstacles of engineering such long shots, and the tough acting of these actors, with really fine performances, i was amazed at the level of manipulation employed, how this director and DOP understand the subtleties of the devices they use. I'll want to see more of them. Anything.

Of all the sequences, the final 8 or 9 minutes are the best. See over and over again if possible, the last shot. *possible spoiler* the camera starts at a garage, goes on to the inside of a car, assists to a car crash, sees a street shooting, enters another car, to end up with yet another car crash. Without cuts, with a vividness and wildness with few precedents. What a ride!

My opinion: 4/5
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The Mafia of Accident and Insurance in Argentina
claudio_carvalho21 March 2011
In Buenos Aires, Sosa (Ricardo Darin) is a lawyer that has lost his license and works in a corrupt foundation, chasing in public hospitals and police stations victims of traffic accidents to claim their insurance rights. Dr. Lujan (Martina Gusman) is a young drug-addicted doctor that has come from the provinces and works in an ambulance and in the emergency service of a public hospital. When Sosa meets Lujan, he falls in love for her and tries to recover his license and move to the provinces to star a new life. But he is trapped to the corrupt system and the mafia does not let him go.

"Carancho" is a gloomy romance about the mafia of accident and insurance in Argentina. The story of a man that can not set free from his past and drags a young doctor to the underworld is engaging, but the irony and the dark humor of the conclusion does not work and is very disappointing. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "Abutres" ("Voltures")
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simply excellent
jia11021 February 2011
Excellent portrait of two "bonaerenses" characters,

both sinked in their failure of life seeking for running away of their fears and past.

At the end, it is a love story.

Great performances of Darin and Gusman.

Excellent filming sequences, you will feel inside the dark world of these characters, in any sense. The director (great Trapero) shows all of his capability to make secondary characters,

performed by anonymous players,

as real and natural as any of the regular and sadistic people living in your BA suburbs neighborhood. Simply the best 2010 Argentine film

(from my point of view, even better than overestimated "the secret of their eyes")
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A mix of feelings...
patrickfile30 July 2014
After watching this film last night, i can say a couple of things that come to my mind.

  • Has a good script, but it's "short" and therefore they make some scenes too long, with a pace too slow, to get a movie with a minimum lenght. It could been 20 min shorter, easily.

  • The dark mood of the story is well placed: depressing and dangerous. No complaints here. They make also a good job on showing the daytime differences affecting the characters.

What saves this movie is Ricardo Darin's acting and the last scenes of the movie.
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One of the worst endings ever
jmc476914 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I would have rated this movie higher but it had one of the most maddening endings I have ever seen in a movie. Not that the rest of the movie was that good. Without the bad ending I would have only increased my rating to 5 or 6.

This is one of those movies where the main characters start off in a bad situation and then do one stupid thing after another until their hole is so deep there is no way out. One of the main characters is an attorney who has lost his license and has gotten involved with an ambulance-chasing outfit run by gangsters. The other is an emergency room doctor who shoots up in the bathroom so that she can cope with the long hours of her job.

In most suspense thrillers, the formula goes like this. The good guys get badgered, threatened, and chased by the bad guys, narrowly escaping death, but in the end winning out, usually in some ingenious way. If you happen to like this formula, don't go see Carancho because the people who made it threw the formula out the window.

**SPOILERS** As our heroes are driving away from a climactic gun battle having miraculously survived a horrific car accident and a shower of bullets coming through their windshield, they are hit by another car. The guy ends up dead and the girl's condition is apparently serious. The screen goes black--end of movie. I don't know about you, but to me the tragic ending is becoming a cliché in movies. I think that killing off a main character at the end is an overused trick some filmmakers use to make their movies more dramatic or artsy. OK, I agree that filmmakers WERE following the film noir formula: If the hero does something unforgivable, he must die. But that explanation of the ending only leads to another problem. Why did Sosa kill his boss in cold blood? Sure, his boss had Sosa's girlfriend slapped around, but it was out of character for Sosa to beat the guy to to a bloody pulp. Sosa is a petty criminal, but not a killer. In fact, it seems that the main reason for having Sosa murder his boss and having his girlfriend be a drug addict was so that they would be "dirty" enough to be killed or suffer greatly at the end.
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A good story and a good effort, but...
CarlosFacundoCornejo1 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
A good story and a good effort, hard though, but is not as good as Darin's previous hit, "El Secreto de sus ojos".

The story is a real good one, a truly hard and real story, that could happen everywhere on America, and Europe, as far as i know, obviously with "the Argentinian touch", expressions and such...

The movie is actually well conducted, well acted, and the scenes are pretty credible, but when we look at this movie we first thought on the previous Argentinian big screen hit, and the previous Ricardo Darin's one, and isn't even closer to the captivating story and scenes from "El Secreto de sus ojos", and i wouldn't be surprised if this one doesn't reach any Oscar nomination this year, besides from that is a truly enjoyable movie, maybe too short because the main idea could handle a few more minutes of narration and even, a few more twists.

The ending of the movie is pretty predictable, (you know when you play with fire...) but is good enough to close the film.

Actually i would say this movie is more than a 7 but less than an my opinion, 7.5 should have been the best rate for the movie, and the summary line "A good story, pretty enjoyable movie" but not far away than that.
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Acting, situation and places
argento10022 April 2012
As Argentinian, one of the most important things that i like of our actors is that they act normal like in real life. Not overact as i can see in many Hollywood stars. I like to see people blaming, fighting, feeling as we do in real life, i think is one of the most strong values of our good actors. I can tell you we are like him, Ricardo Darin resume exactly how we the argentinians talks and gesticulate.

The dark like of the movie and the places is nothing more than the reality of the streets, the reality of hospitals. They are so human and common that they can do the movie perfectly credible, 'cause, everything (except the love history) is a every day real situations. Of course is not everything tetricus and bad, is a part, there is also good and nice places, but this movie is focused on the dark side.

I strongly recommend this movie, and i wasn't expecting much for this one when i started to see it. It will make you sit and watch all the movie without any second of distraction, every minute worth. Very human, very real, great acts, great camera work (better than i expect for our cinema), everything is very well done.
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Dark Underbelly
sergepesic17 March 2013
Dark, gloomy underbelly of Buenos Aires. Dirty, orange lights on even dirtier streets. Drugs, alcohol and the dire consequences. " Carancho" or "The Vulture", takes us to the world we'll rather never know about it. Tragic car crashes, broken glass and pints of blood soaked up by the filthy asphalt. And there are the people, those whose mission is to save and patch up, and those who prey upon the bereft and shocked. There is always money to be made on death and tragedy. Two broken imperfect creatures, desperately clinging to ever so elusive hope for tenderness and human touch. Too much to ask? Perhaps not, but there is nothing fair about this spinning madhouse of a planet we inhabit. Some have it all, and most just roam around hoping and waiting.
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a folie a deux
dedalus763214 December 2010
One thing that works in this movie is the chemistry between Sosa and Lujan, a discredited lawyer and a drug-addicted emergency room doctor with a self-destructive personality. The picture comes close to the Warner Bros. B-picture genre of the 40s, with the exception that there is no on-screen moral center. Lujan, played by Martina Gusman, quickly moves over to the dark side. Cynically, her drug addiction feels like an after-thought added by one of the writers to explain her compulsions, that go so quickly out of control. Her attraction for Sosi comes out of left field, and the drug addiction is probably an attempt to justify this, but seems over the top and unnecessarily to stack the deck against her. In any case, her habit should have been introduced earlier. The lawyer, Sosa, played by Ricardo Darin, is nasty. He goes after Lujan's assailant with uncontrolled violence and rage --far different than Bardem's understated emotional turmoil in 'Biutiful,' in a similar situation. Finally, why the incomprehensible deus-ex-machina ending? The filmmakers had a more interesting setup than I think they knew how to develop.
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Ambulance chaser
jotix10011 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
After watching "Carancho" one feels afraid of being hit by a car, or a bus, in Buenos Aires, where traffic accidents are common. According to a statistic shown as the film credits unroll, some eight thousand victims of these mishaps die every year. In a way it is unfair to single out the capital of Argentina, but since this story happens to be based there, it our only reference point, as explained by Pablo Trapero with a warning before presenting the story.

Sosa, a lawyer who has lost his license, is now working with an firm that specializes in litigation of victims. After the insurance companies pay the indemnization, the unscrupulous lawyers that tried the case give the actual victims only a small portion of what was due to them, pocketing the rest of the money. Sosa's boss, Casal, employs Sosa, who is desperate to get back on his feet, although he has all the intentions to cheat Sosa of what is due to him. Casal operates with the corrupt police chief, who is into the scam himself big time. There is an awful lot of money to be made out of the illegal activity.

During his night rounds, Sosa meets a young doctor, Lujan, assigned to an ambulance. It becomes clear Sosa likes the young woman from the start. Lujan, in turn, has a dark secret of her own, something which she is not too proud of. It does not take Lujan a long time to realize what Sosa is doing. In spite of her realization, she is helpless to do anything when the people that want Sosa's activities get to her, threatening to harm her. As Sosa is putting his own scheme to elude his tormentors he becomes another victim of a traffic accident.

Pablo Trapero directed this dark film in which corruption is exposed in a sector of society that is vulnerable because the horrible way people drive and the vultures that prey on the victims themselves. Mr. Trapero also contributed to the script. We had admired two of his previous films, "El Bonaerense" and "Leonera". He is a man that is interested in the small guy lost in a society that has little use for him. His stories are almost always set far from glamorous settings and devoid of elegance.

Working with Ricardo Darin, right after his success with "The Secret in Their Eyes", must have been quite a challenge for both, the star and the director. Mr. Darin, whose style is more cerebral, here must endure some beatings as well as being asked for more physical action. Martina Gusman plays Lujan the ambulance doctor that ends up falling for an unlikely kind of man.

Technically, "Carancho" has some incredible special effects that keeps the viewer thinking how real they appear. All the action is captured by Julian Apezteguia, the cinematographer who works with the dark colors of an action that takes place almost always at night.
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Taking advantage of ...
kosmasp19 July 2019
This is quite the bleak view on insurance scam - or whatever else you want to call it. It's quite slow and it is also really depressing to a degree, though it also has a love story (sort of) in the middle of it. The system is there for people to exploit it, but if those who are in one of their most vulnerale state get used and taken advantage of ... that is not cool.

But as always it is about the money and you could not tell people to do or act otherwise. Then again as I said before the love story might be a beacon of light. But it is always tough to hold on to that or rather get out of certain things. The great thing is how we get introduced to the characters. Everything feels real ... to a certain degree. Drama baby
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Under pressure. Intense drama. Excellent acting. Terrific photography. Lunatic story.
imseeg3 September 2018
What a bleak and hard hitting intense drama! Wow. It starts out sweet yet depressing, as a love story between two people struggling in low wage high pressure jobs. But slowly this story enfolds itself into a climax that crept under my skin like a disease gone out of control. The nucleus of the story is about a disbarred lawyer who feeds of traffic victims as his clientele. He even goes so far as to help injure people so they can claim insurance money. This criminal business is slowly spiralling out of control. A new found love only intensifies this already chaotic drama. You gotta see this for yourself to believe how insane and wild this story is.

Cant believe this movie has only gotten 17 reviews, mine included. This is THE FORGOTTEN GEM out here! Maybe it is not suited for the masses who might MISTAKENLY expect some sort of fun filled action thriller. It is not. It is depressing. But in a passionate way. Those who love drama in relationships will appreciate this criminal love story. This movie is the real thing: dark, depressing but wild and passionate at the same time. Like only Pablo Trapero and other South American directors of these days can achieve. Lots of masterpieces have originated from those southern countries this past decade. And too few get noticed on Imdb. What a shame.

Seen it many times now and it honestly is one of the most realistic hard hitting dramas I have seen the last decade. Ricardo Darin and Martina Gusman perform the roles of their lives. The photography is like a fly on the wall, documentary style, but not the shaky cam nonsense some other directors use, on the contrary, the natural flowing camera movements gave me the feeling I was right smack in the middle of this enticing out of control story about love and deceit.

Highly recommended for arthouse audiences who have no fear of watching bleak, depressing yet very passionate stories. This is wild stuff! Gotta spread the word around about this forgotten hard hitting gem!
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