Viggo Mortensen plays twin brothers from an Argentine backwater. “Agustin” escaped to Buenos Aires, while “Pedro” stayed to run the family’s bee hives… but when he’s not making honey, Pedro also works for a local crime boss. The plot gets a bit murky & maybe it’s not quite solid, but the visuals are hypnotic & Mortensen is terrific as one of Horacio Quiroga’s “exiles” — a man with no true home. This is Argentine writer/director Ana Piterbarg’s first feature film. Click HERE fore our FF2 Haiku.
Todos Tenemos un Plan from Argentina has just been released in the USA by Fox International Productions with the English title Everyone Has a Plan. This title is a bit of a joke because the main character, “Agustin,” clearly has no plan.
Agustin grew up in Argentina’s rural Parana Delta, then made his way to Buenos Aires, and when we first meet him, Agustin is a prosperous man with a thriving medical practice, an accomplished wife, and an upscale urban lifestyle. But his wife “Claudia” wants more; Claudia wants a child, and the prospect of becoming a father sends Agustin into a emotional tailspin.
Claudia has commitments, so she leaves Agustin alone, hoping he will come back to his senses while she’s away. But out of nowhere, an intrusive presence suddenly appears, breaking the quiet. It’s Agustin’s twin brother “Pedro,” the brother who stayed put and now makes his living maintaining the family’s bee hives and selling honey to Delta shopkeepers.
I don’t want to give too much away, so let’s just say that Agustin makes an impulsive decision to trade places with Pedro. Stripping himself of his city clothes, Agustin returns to the Delta and attempts to pass himself off as Pedro. There is no plan, just a flight from present circumstances and a vague hope that he can escape into the past.
In 2005, Viggo Mortensen played a character named “Tom Stall” in David Cronenberg’s film A History of Violence. The film ended up receiving a slew of awards and nominations for Cronenberg and screenwriter Josh Olson, as well as William Hurt (in the Supporting Actor category) and Maria Bello (in the Supporting Actress category), but I was totally pissed because Mortensen’s name appeared on very few of these lists. Tom Stall is the main character in A History of Violence; he’s definitely the film’s anchor, and Mortensen did a terrific job playing him. If I ruled the world, Mortensen would certainly have been nominated for an Oscar in 2006, but alas, he wasn’t.
I mention all this old news now because people who think of Mortensen as “Aragorn,” the part he played in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, will be very surprised by his performance in Everyone Has a Plan, but those us who saw him in A History of Violence will be delighted. In fact, I can’t help wondering if writer/director Ana Piterbarg didn’t see A History of Violence at some point, and then craft this part specifically for him.
Mortensen does a superlative job of playing both Agustin and Pedro, and make no mistake, even though they are brothers, they have grown into very different men. Once he gets to Pedro’s rustic cabin, Agustin finds a drawer filled with photos, twin boys with another boy named “Adrian” who has become a vicious criminal. Pedro has clearly had a long and prickly relationship with Adrian, and the pictures bring back memories that Agustin has long suppressed. The inevitable result is tragic for all concerned.
I won’t pretend the plot (written by Piterbarg in collaboration with Ana Cohan) isn’t a bit convoluted, but I don’t think that matters as much as the terrific acting, especially by Viggo Mortensen, as well as Daniel Fanego as Adrian, Soledad Villamil as Agustin’s wife Claudia, and Sofia Gala as Pedro’s assistant “Rosa.”
Piterbarg does a superlative job of creating a mood filled with gut-wrenching tension, and poignant with missed opportunity. She took me to the Parana Delta, someplace totally new to me, but now that I’ve been there, it is a place that I will never forget.
Note that when my husband Rich and I did our “Twozie List” for 2005, A History of Violence ended up #4 on my list and #5 on his list. I was no great fan of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but if the success of those films has given Mortensen the economic freedom to do the projects he wants to do as an artist now, then hooray for hobbits! For an explanation of how Mortensen comes to do an Argentine film that is totally in Spanish, click HERE for his Wikipedia page.
Photo Credit: Gabriel Alberto Costa