Dir: Spiros Stathoulopoulos
Star: Merida Urquia, Daniel Paez, Alberto Zornoza, Andres Mahecha

While not the first thriller to be set in real-tine, this may be the first to be genuinely shot in a single take: others, most notably Hitchcock's Rope, faked it in one way or another. Here, there's no such cheating, as we follow Ofelia (Urquia) on a nightmare journey, after robbers burst into her house, demand money, and fix an explosive device around her neck to ensure they get it. She and her husband (Paez) have to make their way through the rural Colombian landscape to a nearby town, and rendezvous with the local bomb-squad expert, Officer Hurtado (Zornosa), who is entirely ill-equipped to deal with the task at hand [his first question to Ofelia is whether she has a knife he can borrow]. Can he figure out a way to disarm the bomb before the robbers get tired of waiting for their money?

From a technical point of view, this is simply awesome, and I can't begin to imagine how much effort and planning must have gone in to lining everything up, in order for it to unfold over 80+ minutes - especially in an uncontrolled enviroment like rural Colombia. Have to wonder, how many takes did it require, before it went right? Credit is also due to the actors for pulling if off, particularly Urquia. However, the script needs a lot more work, leaving far too many unanswered questions. Who are the robbers? What was their plan? Why does Ofelia's necklace "beep" randomly? While inspired by a true story, as depicted here, it doesn't really have the ring of truth to it. It seems more like a pretext for the cinematographical stunt that it contains, and while it succeeds on that aspect, it feels as if Stathoulopoulos [who did, at least, carry his own camera!] was more interested in this than the fate of his characters.

[September 2011]

Colombian necktie
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