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In the Villa Virgin , a shantytown in the slums of Buenos Aires, Julian (Ricardo Darín, The Secret in Their Eyes, Carancho) and Nicolas (Jérémie Renier, In Bruges, Atonement), two priests and long-standing friends, work tirelessly to help the local people. Nicolas joins Julian in overseeing the construction of a hospital following the failure of a project he was leading in which paramilitary forces assassinated members of the community. Deeply troubled by his actions, Nicolas finds solace in Luciana (Martina Gusman, Carancho, Lion's Den), a young, attractive atheist social worker. As Nicholas' beliefs wane, tension and violence grow between the slum's drug-dealing cartels and when work on the hospital is halted by ministerial decree, the faith of the entire community is put to the test.
"White Elephant" tells the story of father Julian, a priest working in one of the many "villas" in Argentina. One of Julian's jobs is to see that the construction of a hospital, a project that has been started before but never completed gets finished this time. This is not an easy task for Julian who is also terminally ill. He tries to stay focused on what the future holds for those that live there instead of thinking about his own problems.
Julian has brought in Nicolas, another priest and friend to help out. Nicolas has had his own hardships, he witnessed the slaughter of an indigenous tribe he was working with in the amazon and it has left him psychologically damaged. Together They try to bring this project to light while battling the drug problems, the lack of funds to pay the workers who grow restless and their own demons and problems.
Besides the realistic look at what happens everyday in other parts of the world the film's other big strength is it's cast. Ricardo Darin has always been a terrific actor and he shines again here as Julian but he doesn't have to carry the film on his own because his two co-stars, Jeremie Renier and Martina Gusman stand toe to toe with him both giving remarkable performances. Production wise the film looks fantastic and the camera does a great job at detailing the kind of life these people live everyday.
To talk too much about the plot would only ruin the experience that awaits but I can tell you that "White Elephant" isn't a film for everyone. It is not a pleasant film to watch at times with it's gut-wrenching scenes but it also is a story of faith and hope. It's a powerful story that leaves a lasting effect long after it is over. Available on DVD, it comes with Special Features that include:
5.1 Surround Sound,
In Spanish with English Subtitles
Trailers For Other Films By Pablo Trapero
Other Strand Releasing Trailers
You can order the DVD HERE.
"White Elephant" is an engaging drama, this is the kind of film that restores my faith in cinema.
Released by Strand Releasing
**** Out Of *****