Dead ringers – Everybody Has A Plan review

Everyone Has A Plan

By Richard Haridy
November 5, 2013

There is nothing inherently wrong with a narrative that withholds its protagonist’s motivations. This can be a successful strategy in building intriguingly portentous atmospheres, but it can also cause immense frustration in viewers unable to accept the whys of a character’s behaviour. Everybody Has A Plan is trying for the former but disappointingly ends up in the latter camp as it indulges its strange blend of naturalistic noir.

Viggo Mortensen plays identical twin brothers, Pedro and Agustín. Pedro is a cancer-ridden criminal living in their childhood swampy home while Agustín is a big city doctor with a curious detachment from his wife and disinterest in his life. Pedro shows up at Agustín’s door one day with an ominous proposal. He is dying and wants his brother to help him end his life. In return, Agustín can claim Pedro’s money waiting for him from his last criminal endeavour. Agustín takes advantage of this opportunity to start a new existence and returns to their swampy home, impersonating Pedro and getting swept up in the repercussions of his brother’s criminal past.

Everyone Has A Plan

Why does the well-off Agustín take over his brother’s seedy life? Why doesn’t he get the hell out of there when stuff gets heated? None of these questions are ever explained by the irritatingly obtuse narrative. Mortensen makes for a solidly brooding foundation, impressing in his dual roles – and also with his surprising capability for the Spanish language – but unfortunately debut Argentinian director Ana Piterbarg seems to strive for a detached, chilly tone that doesn’t serve the material all that well. Her blend of moody naturalism and pseudo-philosophical musings mostly undercut the noirish framework of the narrative, resulting in a sense of needless obfuscation rather than anything satisfyingly moody. As the picture meandered through quite a languid middle act I began to wonder what a more heated, florid filmmaker like Brian De Palma would’ve done with the material.

Everybody Has A Plan certainly has some lovely moments, and its attention to small details does result in an evocatively textural landscape that has a reasonable resonance. However, the movie’s wilful ambiguity only serves to annoy. Mortensen’s pensive, Gothic brooding still makes this an entirely watchable but ultimately unsuccessful piece of art-house swamp-noir.

3/5

Everybody Has A Plan arrives on Quickflix November 6, 2013.

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