Reviews

Penumbra

Reviewed by: Ryan Turek, Managing Editor
Rating:
4 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here


Cast:
Cristina Brondo as Marga
Camila Bordonaba as Victoria
Berta Muñiz as Jorge Kepler
Arnaldo André as Salva

Directed by Adrián García Bogliano and Ramiro García Bogliano

Review:

Some films float a concept that is best suited for a 30-minute format. Say, stories akin to anthology favorites like Tales from the Crypt or Tales from the Darkside. Penumbra is one of those films. A stretched-out, confined mystery that should never have been feature-length and offers a tremendous amount of set-up for an incredibly weak pay-off.

There is potential in this mess, however. What works against it is the film's tone, and the music doesn't help this problem. Moments of tension are killed by ill-timed cues you'd find in a horror-comedy, but I don't think that's what filmmakers Adrián and Ramiro García Bogliano were trying to achieve. In fact, I'm not entirely certain what they were going for because Penumbra tries to cram a lot of material in. There's the tired “bitchy protagonist gets her comeuppance” scenario, a fun After Hours-like situation that spirals into misunderstandings, the mounting sense that something disastrous might happen during a solar eclipse and a Polanski-esque paranoia sub-plot. But none of this cohesively comes together the right way. Ultimately, parts of Penumbra work better than the whole shebang.

Marga is our main gal here; a quick-talking, incredibly beautiful woman visiting Argentina for work. She's trying to find the right realtor for an apartment she inherited and she thinks she has found her man in Jorge. His offer is too good to pass up, but Marga must sacrifice a day's-worth of meetings and jump through a few hoops to make it happen because Jorge wants the apartment that very day. As the film progresses, Marga runs errands (getting herself into peculiar conflicts with the locals), a solar eclipse approaches and Jorge is increasingly being joined by “colleagues” at the apartment. What's their scheme? Marga definitely finds out in the end, and while the finale is gruesome, it isn't effective because nothing makes any damn lick of sense.

Adrián and Ramiro shoot a handsome-looking film and they know how to find a good troupe of actors – I thought Cristina Brondo was great – they just can't write. There's throwaway social commentary on economic class (the affluent Marga versus the "scum" of the surrounding neighborhood) that goes nowhere; oddball situational comedy; and the apartment itself, which is slowly revealed to be a character in and of itself, revealing archaic designs beneath the wallpaper, but again, it's simply an afterthought.

There's a lot of good energy, and Penumbra works best when it taps into that aforementioned paranoia, it's just too bad there were poor choices in the execution of its delivery.

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