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Director: Pablo Trapero
Script: Pablo Trapero
Cast: Ricardo Darin, Jeremie Renier, Martina Gusman
106mins Drama Spanish with subtitles 2012
In many large capitals the rich live cheek by jowel with the poor or disadvantaged. And this is the case in Buenos Aires which is the focus of Pablo Trapero’s latest film Elefante Blanco. It refers to the proposed structure that was to be Latin America’s largest hospital. It got off the drawing board in 1937 but was never completed and eventually became a drug-infested home to thousands of people subsisting amongst the rat-ridden squalor
In this hell-hole two Catholic priests, Julian (Ricardo Darin) and Geronimo (Jeremie Renier) and a social worker (Martina Gusman) make an emotional journey of salvation hampered by their own considerable personal difficulties. Carancho Trapero’s previous film was a work of social realism and cross-genre filmmaking. Elefanto Blanco takes a simple narrative structure without resorting to subplots. Not only is this refreshing but it also allows the importance of its social message to carry more impact.
Trapero’s adroitly-scripted and seamlessly-made film is slow-burning, (and at times too slow) tale charting the struggle and despair of Father Julian. With a masterfully resonant performance from Argentina’s finest actor, Ricardo Darin, he brings relief and succour to the poor no matter what their beliefs or backgrounds. While Martina Gusman’s social worker takes on board the government bureaucracy behind a community that has been largely forgotten. Jeremie Renier gives a mature and measured turn as Geronimo, althoug he doesn’t feel quite right in this role.
White Elephant takes time to get going and although it builds to a powerful climax never really builds enough momentum to be really gripping. It’s nevertheless a well-made and a worthy production and a timely release for Argentinian film in the light of the recent election of Pope Francesco to the Vatican. MT
WHITE ELEPHANT IS OUT ON GENERAL RELEASE FROM 26TH APRIL 2013