La corporación could be a decent character study if it were less obviousWednesday, February 26, 2014
Life is not what it used to be
For the Herald
La corporación (The Corporation), the new film by Argentine filmmaker Fabián Forte (Malditos sean, Celo, Carnal), invites viewers to first be convinced of a lie, then shows them what’s really going on, and finally allows them to join the making of another lie. It’s meant to be a game of representation and deception, and to a certain extent it’s well played out. But when it becomes predictable and unsubstantial, the game is soon over.
Felipe Mentor (Osmar Núñez) is a businessman in his late fifties married to Luz (Moro Anghileri), who is a younger, beautiful and most loving wife. Everybody says they make a perfect couple and it certainly looks like it. Adding to that, Felipe’s company benefits from successful business deals, one after the other. Such a splendid life surely is a dream come true. If it only were real... The truth is that Felipe has signed a contract with La corporación, a company that provides you with the sentimental partner (and other things) you want in exchange for a large sum of money. So Felipe has rented a wife exactly like the one he had always wanted and never had. Of course she plays a role (there’s even a script she has to learn for their everyday life together) but that doesn’t make her less attractive. It’s all make-believe.
There are two problems, though: the fact that Luz is not only Luz, but also Carla, implies that she has another life to live in her spare time — as long as it’s in secrecy. She has a very ill husband and needs the money she earns as a tailored-made wife to support him. Felipe knows this, which doesn’t mean he can always accept it.
Secondly, once a contract is signed, there are certain conditions than cannot be changed. For instance, Luz/Carla has said from the very beginning that having a child is out of the question. After all, it’s a paid service, not the real deal.
La corporación can be seen as an urban thriller, or perhaps a drama, or a crossover of these two genres. Its viewers follow certain clues to understand what’s happening, and this builds a somewhat seductive mystery, a good dose of suspense and surprise to keep it going along the way. However, the suspense doesn’t last for long, nor do the surprises.
Once the façade has been unveiled for viewers — which occurs early in the film — you can see the rest of the story coming from a mile away. Granted, it’s executed efficiently, step by step, but there’s not much of a pulse.
And for being a drama, La corporación lacks a strong foundation, considering that little is known about what prompted Felipe to make up a life for himself, how his life had been until then, what his motivations were. Let alone those of Luz/Carla. Therefore, the unfolding of the story never gets to be gripping enough. It’s hard to care about characters who are little else than the repetitive actions they perform. Sooner rather than later, this diminished background makes the dramatic side vanish.
On the plus side, it’s well shot as regards technique, it’s properly narrated, and it features a very convincing performance from Osmar Núñez, one of the finest local actors around. In fact, it’s a film that comes alive in some of the personal, intimate moments Felipe saves for himself. These are the times when you can feel some of his anguish and desperation — and also when the underlying tension is somewhat tangible. In fact, this is when you get a glimpse of what a decent character study La corporación could have been had it been less obvious.
La corporación (Argentina, 2013). Directed and written by Fabián Forte. With Osmar Núñez, Moro Anghileri, Sergio Boris, Karina K, Juan Palomino, Federico Luppi. Cinematograhy by Mauricio Riccio A.D.F. Sound design by Pablo Isola. Editing by Mariana Lifschitz Music by Twins Music. Produced by Horacio Mentasti, Esteban Mentasti and Hori Mentasti. Running time: 90 minutes.