Digamos que lo que yo le dije a Brian, en castellano, y que él tradujo y cito acá, era algo un poco más largo y complejo de lo que parece leyéndolo. Si bien entiendo --como periodista y "resumidor de respuestas" que también soy-- que todo debe ser reducido en este tipo de notas, también conozco la hipersensibilidad de muchos cineastas argentinos. Es por eso que debajo de la nota está copiado el cuestionario completo que él me mandó y que yo le contesté...
By Brian Byrnes
In director Juan José Campanella's 2001 film, El Hijo de la Novia (Son of the Bride), Ricardo Darín's character, a short-tempered restaurateur, bluntly tells his actor friend during a heated discussion: "I don't watch Argentine films!" The line draws knowing laughter from Argentines, most of whom don't watch their compatriots' movies, either. This inherent distrust in their own cultural offerings is a topic of constant analysis in Freud-obsessed Buenos Aires, and when Campanella wrote it he knew it would sting. "In Argentina, a Hollywood movie is innocent until proven guilty. An Argentine movie is the other way around," says Campanella, 50. "I have to work really hard to break down that barrier."
He has already succeeded more than any Argentine director in history. His keen, often comedic eye and ability to coax stellar performances from his actors has endeared him to Argentines of all persuasions. His six feature-length films include the Oscar-nominated El Hijo de la Novia; his latest release, El Secreto de Sus Ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes), is the most-talked-about Spanish-language film in years. In Argentina, more than 2.4 million people—6 percent of the population—have seen the film; in Spain it has grossed $7.5 million at the box office, a remarkable feat for a noir thriller set in 1975, the year before Argentina's horrific military dictatorship began. "Campanella's films mix a certain moral and ethical confusion with nostalgia and sentimentality," says Diego Lerer, a film critic for the Argentine newspaper Clarín. "They are always well written and never boring."
Secreto, based on a novel by Eduardo Sacheri, teams Campanella with Darín, the gifted actor who has played the director's alter ego—a variation on the same middle-class Buenos Aires working man—in each of his last four films. In this latest turn, Darín plays a recently retired court investigator who begins writing a book on a 20-year-old murder case while vying for the lost love of his old boss. The film takes place during a delicate era in Argentine history, when state-sponsored violence was just getting underway. The real-life perpetrators of the "dirty war"—which claimed as many as 30,000 lives—have just recently begun to stand trial. "I think Secreto has been such a phenomenon because it examines things from our recent past in an intelligent way," says Darín. "It has gotten people talking and even generated a feeling of hope here."
A surprise ending reveals a disturbing secret held by a key character and helps heighten the film's multigenre appeal. It doesn't hurt that Darín exhibits a rare blend of wit and vulnerability, which appeals to both men and women. "Yes, Darín has elements of Tom Hanks, but he also has elements of Henry Fonda," says Campanella. "He is stoic, but at the same time he can break down and be fragile."
What sets Campanella apart from other directors is his ability to make it in both Buenos Aires and Hollywood. Not only is he the most commercially lucrative homegrown film director in Argentine history, but he has also built an impressive résumé in U.S. television, directing 16 episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, as well as episodes of House and 30 Rock.
Secreto received rave reviews at top festivals like Toronto and San Sebastián, which led to a U.S. distribution deal with Sony Pictures Classics. France, Italy, the U.K., Brazil, and Israel have also inked distribution rights, guaranteeing a wider audience. Secreto will be Argentina's submission for the best foreign-language-film Oscar this year. Campanella hopes he will improve upon his 2002 experience, and not leave the red carpet empty-handed. "Perhaps the key to my movies' success is that people see their lives being told as an epic story," he says. Epic stories about their own that Argentines have finally started paying attention to.
Mis respuestas completas al cuestionario:
-- Why do you think Argentines embrace all of Campanella's films so warmly?
Creo que de alguna manera conectan con cierta idea de "la argentinidad" que mezcla cierta confusión ética/moral, un grado de sentimentalismo y nostalgia. Además, hay un evidente cuidado de la puesta en escena y la naturalidad de los dialogos: las películas están muy bien armadas, nunca aburren, apelan a todo tipo de espectador. Y ayuda la presencia magnética de Ricardo Darin.
-- What makes "Secreto" different or better from his other films?
Lo raro del éxito del El Secreto (mayor que el de filmes) es que es una pelicula más oscura y con menos humor. Pero creo que su mirada al pasado reciente es original y el thriller con final sorpresivo, si esta bien hecho, siempre tiene buen rendimiento y genera espectadores que ven la pelicula mas de una vez para buscar pistas....
-- What do you think of his relationship with Ricardo Darin? Does it continually surprise and impress you? Or do you think they work together too often?
Darin es un gran actor y eso ya no sorprende. Con Campanella es donde consigue "enganchar" mas con el público porque con él compone esos personajes de "chantas queribles" que tan bien le salen. Creo que se entienden muy bien, Darin capta lo que Campanella quiere de él y realmente parece no hacer nunca nada mal. La gran sorpresa en este filme, para mi, es , que interpreta a su amigo. Un comediante conocido por su "broad humor" que aqui compone a un personaje muy delicadamente. Y está irreconocible.