Greetings again from the darkness. What a compelling neo-noir quasi-crime thriller from first time director (and long time Peruvian actor) Salvador del Solar. The story is based on Alonso Cueto’s novel “La Pasagera”, and while it’s anchored by a terrific performance from Damian Alcazar, there are numerous twists, turns, and intense sequences.
Mr. Alcazar plays Magallanes, a former Army soldier now struggling to earn a living as a freelance taxi driver in the city of Lima. He has a second job as driver and part-time caretaker for his former military commander (played by Federico Luppi), who now suffers from Alzheimer’s disease … though to what extent plays a role throughout.
One day Magallanes picks up a passenger whom he immediately recognizes. When she exits the taxi, his breathless anxiety is a powerful moment. We slowly learn that the woman is Celina (the stunning Magaly Solier), and there is a dark and horrific secret that binds these two to the colonel.
Watching the numerous story lines unfold is a nerve-racking movie-going pleasure, as secrets and pain and struggles abound. Celina is close to losing her salon and is being pressured by a tyrannical loan shark – a rare cinematic female role absent any empathy. Secrets and circumstances being what they are lead Magallanes to plan blackmail against the colonel’s wealthy doctor son (Christian Meier). To say that nothing goes according to plan is a bit of an understatement.
The brilliance of the story is that we find ourselves pulling for Magallanes right up until the moment when we can’t possibly forgive him his transgressions … any more than Celina can. More than an example of the jumbled mess of war and terrorists, the film is a wonderful observation of human nature and how we often rationalize our worst actions to the point of delusion of our own goodness. No matter how hard we try to put things behind us, the bad choices are always there. Some sins just cannot be washed away, and redemption is not always possible. In the words of the characters … “well, that’s football.”