Dir.: Dani de La Torre; Cast: Luis Tosar, Paula Del Rio, Marco Sanz, Elvira Minguez; Spain 2015, 100 min.
First time director Dani de La Torre has achieved a remarkable feat with this small, compact thriller: his main protagonists are all equally unlikeable, but far from losing interest, the audience grasps the underlying philosophical concept, which underpins an endless car chase directed by a voice on a mobile.
Set in contemporary La Coruna (Galicia), invest banker Carlos (Luis Tosar) sets off in his car to drive to work, accompanied by his two children Sara (Del Rio) and Marcos (Sanz) who he is dropping off at their school. But a voice on his mobile informs him that his car is carrying a bomb which will explode if he or his children leave the car. The caller wants ransom money from Carlos and the bank, in the region of half a million Euros. Carlos does not believe the caller, but is immediately convinced by the threat when the car of his two co-workers, parked next to him, who have been also been blackmailed, explodes – the shrapnel injuring Marcos, who is injured and needs to go to hospital. Trying to get in touch with his wife, Carlos learns, in an unexpected twist, that she is with the father of a friend “whom she met during the PTA meetings you never go to”.
RETRIBUTION has strong parallels with Locke, athough the action element is lacking in the British film. Carlos is a typical one-dimensional Spanish corporate character. At the start, he is totally univolved with his children, his mind totally occupied by work. Only the actions of the blackmailer remind Carlos of the existence of the two on the backseat. But the extortionist is equally guilty: he is not only ready to sacrifice two innocent children for his vendetta: he and his wife wanted to participate in making “easy” money. But the end, de la Torre shows that nothing much has changed: Carlos is replaced, but the bank is only too ready for a new strategy.
Tosar, in spite of his detached emotional attitude, gains our respect, if not our forgiveness for his lack of soul. The action scenes are impeccable, and it is refreshing to have a woman policeman in charge. Josu Inchaustegni’s images are crisp, but his main work is done inside the car where the changing fortunes of the chase can be read in the faces of the trio inside the vehicle. RETRIBUTION is a small gem, with de La Torre achieving something smart,sassy and well beyond the genre. AS
SCREENING DURING LONDON FILM FESTIVAL UNTIL 18 OCTOBER 2015