Review by Sean Boelman
Perhaps the main reason to check out Óscar Martín’s thriller Amigo is the chance to get to see the insanely talented physical actor Javier Botet play a role with a bit more emotional weight. Occasionally haunting, but sometimes a bit too much of a slow burn to connect, this is certainly a unique film.
The movie follows a wheelchair-bound man and his companion who feels guilt for causing the accident that injured him as they begin to resent each other and experience paranoia that they are trying to manipulate each other. An interesting character-driven spin on a cabin fever storyline, there are some elements that work better here than others.
One of the main issues with the film is that it is a bit of a tonal mess. The movie blends psychological horror, thriller, melodrama, and dark comedy in a way that is often overwhelming. The dark comedy parts are those that come through the least but have the most potential, and the psychological horror are those that are more effective.
There are some interesting ideas about guilt and betrayal, but many of these are confined in the third act. The first forty-five minutes build to the finale well, but because of the abundance of ideas floating around, the conclusion doesn’t tie all of the threads together as well as one would hope.
The film leans a lot on the dynamic between the two characters, and the script does a good job of building the tension between them. The most wonderfully uncomfortable moments of the movie are those which feature the two characters feeding off of each other’s energy for an extended scene.
Botet and co-star David Pareja are absolutely wonderful together. Having co-written the film with Martín, they obviously had a great deal of influence in shaping their characters. Botet has a few scenes in which his physical performance skills get to shine, but he also does a wonderful job of delivering the emotion in the dialogue.
Martín’s visual style for the movie is very unique, with a blend of gritty and cold with surreal and nightmarish. Unlike the script, the tonal shifts in the visuals work a lot better in creating a feeling of unease. The music by Mandu Conde is also wonderful and builds the atmosphere quite brilliantly.
Amigo may get off to a stronger start than it ends, but it’s an intriguing and often thrilling watch. For Martín’s directorial debut, it shows that he already has an understanding of his vision, and it will be exciting to see what he does next.
Amigo screens at the Enzian Theater as part of the Florida Film Festival on August 19 at 9:30pm. The Florida Film Festival runs August 7-20 in Orlando, FL.
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