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Sunday, 19 November 2017

Latin-American Film Festival - Barrie Pattison reviews a new movie with Ricardo Darin, THE SUMMIT (Santiago Mitre, Argentina, 2017)

The imposing Ricardo (El secreto de sus ojos/The Secret in Their Eyes) Darin seems to have taken over from Federico Luppi as the Argentinian star who has a lock on the best Hispanic movies. This year we’ve already had his excellent thriller with politics, Sebastián Borensztein’s Capitan Koblic, so watching him as the President of Argentina in Santiago Mitre’s La Cordillera/The Summit looked like a sure thing. Well, yes and no.

"the Argentinian star who has a lock on the best Hispanic movies"
Ricardo Darin, The Summit
This one is a class act - superior technical work, substantial budget, strong cast (they have gone to some trouble to get the nationalities right) and a serious subject, a meeting of heads of South American states in an attempt to form an oil cartel comparable to OPEC in their area.  It coasts along with unfamiliar developments and a nice tension generated by its parallel plots, the leaders’ summit and the melt down of Darin’s unstable daughter (Dolores Fonzi from Truman) installed in the swank Chilean mountain resort hotel to protect her from a breaking scandal back home.

Mexico, headed up by abrasive Daniel Giménez Cacho is against the US getting a foothold. “We are not brothers. We are neighbours.” Darin says he’ll walk out if Cacho keeps on calling them Gringos and refers to them as Yankees. He wants to fall in behind Brazil’s Leonardo Franco but there’s the offer of a secret meeting by entering the high rise development through the kitchen and leaving all the sidekicks behind.

While all this is happening a window in the alpine resort is smashed and a chair lies in the snow. Time to call in Chilean President Paulina García’s hypnotherapist. His tense session with Fonzi is the film’s highlight with Darin letting himself be reduced to background figure.

He at least gets to go down on the well-built lady towelling herself off in the neighbouring suit, about whom we are still wondering. Slow fade. Well it must look good in the trailer.

Christian Slater, Ricardo Darin, The Summit
Darin also gets a scene with Christian Slater (nice to see him again) where he volunteers his plausible but accented English until they get down to where the rubber meets the road and he has one word in Spanish which keys the outcome.


It’s easy to believe that these people in their luxury environments are deciding the fate of nations, attention lifts as Presidential limos roll along the deserted snow country hairpin bends, convincing support players mill about behind Darin. However, when it all comes to a halt there are too many loose ends. What is the secret Ricardo doesn’t want the doctor to discover? Is he being played by the Yankees? How did Fonzi know about events which happened before she  was born?  The film has got us interested in these and it’s frustrating to be told it’s an enigma wrapped in a mystery. Of the excellent films Ricardo Darin has fronted lately, this is the least satisfactory.

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