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  • 3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Here are a few things you'll learn from Pablo Trapero's legal-eagle noir, set in the South American subculture of ambulance chasers. You don't want to drive in Argentina; the country, apparently, has an extraordinary amount of car-accident fatalities (according to the movie's opening disclaimer, these bang-ups account for more than 8,000 deaths a year. We now have a new record to shoot for, New Yorkers!) The most lucrative job in the nation is working as a carancho, a Spanish word that loosely translates to "vulture" and is considered complimentary if you're a handsome personal-injury lawyer like Sosa (Darn, the George Clooney of Argentine cinema). Finding honor among these bottom-feeding thieves is rare, though hooking up with a comely paramedic such as Lujn (Gusman) isn't out of the question. If you tend to fake accidents occasionally in order to net clients some much-needed dough---no, honestly, it's for a good cause!---things almost certainly will go wrong. You will end up owing bad guys a lot of money, and they will not be happy about it. Your one-in-a-million salvation scheme will hinge on some seriously improbable coordination. There will be blood.

One of the leading directors behind Argentina's cinematic resurgence, Trapero (Lion's Den) has a keen eye for social atmospherics, and Carancho works best when he's simply detailing life at its messiest: the grind of the emergency-room grunts, the maelstrom of a twisted-metal pileup. As a thriller, however, the film only comes alive in fits and starts, moving from Dardenne-ish observation to crime-film clichs with nothing but a half-hearted regard for each.

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Written by David Fear
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