Cine Latino Film Festival looks like reminding us how little we know about Hispanic film. Our view of cinema remains the transplanted British one with it's established, decades long links with Paris, Rome and Berlin marginalizing the rest.
Coming out of nowhere (the director Gabriel Lichtman made one other film called Jews in Space ten years back) we get an agreeable Argentinian quasi thriller Como Ganar Enemigos/How to Win Enemies. with an assured texture and attractive performers who have been working away on their home turf for years without crossing our paths.
It kicks off with young Buenos Aires lawyer Martin Slipak, his arm in a plaster cast, assisting at his brother Javier Drolas’ Jewish Boda (close up of stamping on the glass in the handkerchief). We then flashback setting up the situation. Slipak’s living in the home of his dead parents surrounded by objects from the childhood he shared with Drolas and about to put down the first payment on his new flat before he loses his deposit. However the attractive Inés Palombo crosses his path and he finds himself involved in an intrigue linked to his own associates, with him trying to figure things out with a school exercise book diagram.
We enter a credible and involving environment where we would like to know more about it’s inhabitants. The fact that the women are implausibly sexy doesn’t actually do any harm either. It is all resolved a bit too easily, with the help of the Public Library library’s copy of The American Friend but the film’s emphasis is not on explanation but on loyalty and betrayal with the unfamiliar sunny streets and buildings of the Argentinian capital nicely filmed sharpening our attention - comfortable professionals fringing on a sleazy nether world.
I suggest a visit to this one. (Palace appear to have heard the grumblings about festival prices and are doing a ten dollar members concession) Must add however that it doesn’t really need that confusing flash back, which looks suspiciously like it’s there to swell the running time to a still slim seventy eight minutes.