Even before I sat down in the cinema to watch “Matar a un hombre”, I already regretted buying tickets for it. The reason being that a couple of days after I got all my tickets for this years Viennale, I found out that the movie was already released on DVD a couple of weeks back. If I would have known that in advance, I simply would have rented it. After the screening, I had yet another reason to regret buying tickets for the movie – because, unfortunately, I thought that it wasn’t very good.
“Matar a un hombre” is allegedly based on a true story, and while this is not one of those movies where something happens that’s so implausible that you start to doubt that label, I still think that I would have preferred a fictitious movie to this, since it all feels very restrained. I have no doubt that everything shown here could actually have taken place in real life, but I just didn’t find it very exciting, but rather felt it to be mostly dull and, ultimately, pointless. Which is a shame because I think there’s a lot of potential in the basic idea of a man getting pushed to the edge, and finally seeing no other way out than to take the life of this bully. Unfortunately, apart from a short 5 second scene where Jorge cries in the bathroom, he doesn’t really show any guilt afterwards. I also did not get the impression that he was particularly haunted by what he had done.
I also think that “Matar a un hombre” made it far too easy for us to understand him and his actions. It starts with him getting harassed, then robbed, and then his son gets shot. One year later the perpetrator is set free again, and starts harassing him and his family, throwing a brick through the window, repeatedly threatening them, and even molesting his daughter. The police seem to be totally useless. There’s a restraining order, but when Kalule doesn’t stick to it, there are no repercussions. I’m not saying that all of us would have done what he ultimately does, but I think that because of making his actions seemingly excusable, the movie loses some edge, and feels rather gutless. Now I guess it wouldn’t be so bad if they would draw us in at first, only to then pull the rug out from under our feet, but that’s the point: They never do. Or at least I never felt that they did.
Three more problems: As much as I can understand that Jorge tries to lure his victim out of his house, it felt rather contrived that no one in the neighbourhood seemed to be alarmed (or pissed off) by the car alarm going off repeatedly. He also lost much of my sympathy just out of sheer stupidity, especially when he tried to get rid of the corpse by dumping it into the ocean, dragging it to the shore for miles IN BROAD FUCKING DAYLIGHT. And – given the fact that I hadn’t got the impression that he felt a lot of remorse about what he had done – the ending of the movie came totally out of the blue for me, and thus was a total “WTF?”-moment. I just didn’t get why he did what he did there, and don’t think that the movie build up to that AT ALL.
Having said that… the acting is really good. The movie offers a nice – and bleak – look at the life in Chile (or at least a certain part of it). It was nicely shot, with the night scenes a particular standout. And the scene where he had his intended victim in the truck, and their subsequent conversation, was by far the best moment of the movie. Too bad that I couldn’t really connect with the rest of it.