Sunday 4 May 2014

Tony Manero [2008]

Tony Manero, Larrain’s sophomore feature and the 1st chapter in his thematically linked “No Redemption Trilogy” (which also comprised of Post Mortem and No), provided, contrary to what its plot synopsis might lead one to believe, a lacerating, darkly comical and deeply disturbing peek into the bleak underbelly of Chile during the Pinochet years. The film’s oddball protagonist Raúl (Alfredo Castro) is an outsider in every sense of the term – he is obsessed with John Travolta’s character and disco dance in Saturday Night Fever, his moral compass is long dysfunctional, his emotional landscape is as barren as a ghost town, he is laced with strong sociopathic tendencies, he is uniformly nasty to all and casual violence has become part of his essence. That he is also financially stricken, a loner, an ageing wannabe and a permanently damaged soul, added tragic undertones to his alienation, barely suppressed existential angst and nihilistic outlook. He spends ungodly hours memorizing lines from the film at a local theatre, carries around his recently made white tuxedo with him, and hopes to win the local competition to find Chile’s Tony Manero; and yes, he doesn’t mind killing a person or two for the most trifling benefits without so much as blinking an eyelid. Hand-held cameras, grimy picture quality and complete lack of any background score gave a raw and gritty feel to this fascinating examination of this complex Santiago resident – aided in no small parts by Castro’s exhilarating performance, and also provided disconcerting socio-political commentaries to the devastating effects of the draconian police state presided over by Pinochet. Rarely does a film manage to be so quirky and discomfiting in equal measures.

Director: Pablo Larrain
Genre: Drama/Urban Drama
Language: Spanish
Country: Chile


Sam Juliano said...

I've seen other films on this subject Shubhajit, but not TONY MANERO, which you frame most superlatively in a commanding capsule review. Your character analysis here is simply astounding.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sam. I'm guessing you've watched 2013 film No - this is by the same director, and I'd strongly recommend you to watch this film as it's really good.