Viennale 2014 – Day 3: Matar a un hombre (To Kill A Man)

Matar A Un HombreMatar a un hombre (To Kill A Man)
Chile | France 2014
Written by Alejandro Fernández Almendras
Directed by Alejandro Fernández Almendras

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.


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3 Responses to Viennale 2014 – Day 3: Matar a un hombre (To Kill A Man)

  1. Nessa says:

    You know why people in the neighbourhood did not give a shit about the alarm? BECAUSE NOBODY DOES in places like that. Jorge worked isolated, in case you did not notice. He travels on a bus to his job and he is the caretaker or something of that huge place, that’s why he got rid of the corpse in broad daylight.
    Something like this actually happened to a 24 year old man who shot a guy to death after he did kind of the same thing Jorge suffered in this movie. It was actually worse; he said that the man who harassed him and his family had sexually abused him when he was a child and he was afraid he’d to the same to his little son. He went to jail because he also confessed to the police immediately after he murdered the guy. Here’s the piece of news in Spanish.
    Look at it as a depiction of real life, because that’s just what it is, IT SUCKS, IT HAPPENS, IT’S DULL, POINTLESS AND SAD.

    • I know that this movie is based on a true story – it might even be the one that you posted here. Still, some actions in the movie had me really perplexed. I’m not saying that the neighbors should have gotten out to see what was going on when the car alarm set off repeatedly; but I would have expected them to call the cops, or to at least look out their windows – which then would have meant that they would have seen Jorge threatening the other guy. Then again: I probably shouldn’t judge them, giving that I have the luck of not living in a place like that. So what do I know? But from my spoilt and sheltered point of view, it just baffled me.

      And yes, I know that he worked in a rather secluded place, but still. Also, just a couple of days before he chased off a guy who entered the premises. And I’m not totally sure, but didn’t the police visit him shortly before? Of course, you could argue that deep inside, he wanted to get caught (which also fits the ending). But if so, the movie didn’t really manage to convey me that.

      Then again, my major problems with the movie lie elsewhere anyway (e.g. the superficial way they dealt with his guilt, for example). Still, I really appreciate your comment :-).

  2. Adam says:

    The depiction of guilt superficial?

    If we were taking about Blue Ruin I could agree with you!

    I will concede that it did bother me slightly the dragging the body in broad daylight but I felt the guilt aspect was dealt with so beautifully, subtly and silently. It’s an old one but a good one – show don’t tell and this was the strength of the film.

    Jorge completely breaks down after the murder – drinks more, spends time with the hooker who cant get him off, weeps in the bathroom as you said, feels even more disconnected from a family he thinks he was protecting. It all culminates in the haunting image of Jorge sitting on the beach with the decomposing body(Putting the show back on the foot is an image I can not scrub). Exhausted with the guilt and futility of his crime he decides to confess This was all told in 20 minutes with maybe 10 lines of dialogue and personally I was impressed with the films economy.

    Sorry you didn’t enjoy it, thanks for the review though – the internet would be a boring place if we all agreed on the same thing.

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