Monday, October 24, 2005

The Seventh Archangel

El Séptimo Arcángel (2003) is an impressively unpredictable Argentine thriller that opens up a wealth of interesting possibilities for itself only to run out of steam a bit towards the end. Watching it reminded me how rarely Hollywood is prepared to show real moral transformation in its chief protagonists - circumstances are nearly always a test of character, not vice versa.

Here the lead character is man called Luciano who has been siphoning off funds from his Korean employers. Betrayed by his own cousin, the supermarket firm's accountant, he is given 24 hours to replace the missing money. Meanwhile his girlfriend walks out on him.

Abortively he turns to petty crime yet is hamstrung by fits of remorse (another aspect of the crime thriller we hardly ever see in American cinema). This state of mind prompts him to wander into a gathering held by a strange protestant cult (which turns out to be a kind of urban guerrilla group), where he meets a police commisario that all-too-easily pays off his debt for him. These new circumstances encourage Luciano to leave behind his pathetic, passive self and adopt a rather less palatable, assertive persona, bent on revenge.

As ever with Argentine films, the sound quality is regretably poor.