Early on in this film about Argentina, we see a solitary man sitting at a table in a crowded restaurant. Another man walks in and stares at him unrelentingly, eventually telling the waiter that he should be given that table since he is ready to order while the man already seated is waiting for his late wife To tell you more about what happens next would be a spoiler except to say that most of it is unexpected and the degree of tension the director (Benjamin Naishtat) builds from this mild beginning is unnerving, brilliant and a sweeping foretelling of events to follow.
Rojo consists of several seemingly disparate set pieces which include an abandoned house being stripped of its furnishings, an eclipse of the sun, a romantic encounter between a young girl and her boyfriend a magic act in a nightclub and several speechifiers who appear in case the audience isn’t sophisticated or sufficiently knowledgeable about Argentina’s history in the 1970’s. Some of these actually lessen the power of the more oblique examples of predominantly male aggression in all forms and many different ages. There is a subtlety to this, particularly in the scene of the eclipse as the sun goes black and then a blazing red, nature’s own rojo as the source of all our light as well as something with the power to blind the viewer Similarly the scene with the boyfriend and later with his car buddies extends the basis of authoritarian brutality down to the everyday behavior or teenagers. the character of the private detective is another ambiguous persona - hellbent of pursuing the villain in the case he was hired for but unwilling to be as helpful to a mother whose son “has disappeared”
Rojo is a welcome addition to the otherwise predictable big budget summer movies that are the antithesis of this quiet genre. It is well worth seeing and discussing and lends itself to probing for additional insights related specifically to Argentina’s politics and more broadly to males in western culture. You will leave the theater thinking, and that’s a good thing to observe nowadays.
Have PoliticalMavens.com delivered to your inbox in a daily digest by clicking here