April 22, 2012

Filthy Review - Penumbra

Penumbra (2011)

Review by Jude Felton

Some movies definitely benefit from not knowing too much about them, before you watch them. For some reason many trailers and promotional pieces like to dissect the entire movie for you, making it easier to digest. Or is it a case of the film not being easy to categorize, therefore the need to reveal too much about the plot? Well, I never reveal too much, in fact I find writing about the plot to be tedious and a tad pointless. Sure, you’ll get the basic outline and a few bits and bobs, but I will not walk anyone through the film.

Penumbra, which hails from Argentina, is one such movie that really benefits from knowing only the bare minimum before watching. Directed by the team of Adrian Garcia Bogliano and Ramiro Garcia Bogliano, who previous brought us Cold Sweat (Sudor Frio), Penumbra is a curious little movie that offers more to the viewer than what you see on the screen, or at least it did to me.

The basic plot involves successful business woman Marga (Christina Brondo), who works for a Real Estate company and is in the process of trying to rent out a rundown apartment in Buenos Aries. She hates the city, and isn’t too fond of the country, and is eager to get back to her native Spain, but business is business. She shows one gentleman the apartment and he is insistent that his client will love the place and offers more than it is worth. Obviously Marga isn’t ready to turn this down. All this does though is set into effect a series of strange and often hallucinating chain of events.

There are plenty of quirky characters on display in Penumbra, who seem only to serve to make Marga’s life more difficult than it already is, or is it just an effect of the impending solar eclipse? The title Penumbra actually means, amongst other things, the shadow cast by the moon during an eclipse.

Penumbra never went in the direction I expected it to, and constantly keeps twisting and turning into an almost maddening sense of reality. The movie’s visual style also adds to the effect of the story, with rich golden colors throughout, and some clever camerawork. The score, which comes and goes throughout, does at first seems at odds with what is going on in terms of the plot, but after a while I found it only added to the sense of paranoia and confusion that is prevalent throughout.

The film certainly isn’t going to please everyone, with its style and plot being the way that it is, and I did find it too be a little too vague in places, especially towards the later stages. That being said it was an engrossing story with an engaging cast bringing it to life, and the technical aspects I already mentioned also adding to the film’s overall effect.

The film is most definitely a quirky thriller at heart, with the majority of the action being through the dialogue between characters. That being said there are one or two moments where the claret does flow, and when it does it is fairly spectacular.

Overall, Penumbra is a good solid film that is not the type you will see every day. The ideas the filmmakers try to express don’t always come off, but on the whole it was a quite decent movie that I would recommend to fans that are tired of the predictable.

Penumbra is released by IFC Films and is playing select theaters and is available on VOD.

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