Wild Horses

on January 31, 1996 by Lael Loewenstein
   At a Q-and-A session after the screening, one audience member asked if"Wild Horses" had prompted any North American filmmakers to bid for its remake rights. The answer, simply put, was that the film had already been made here. In fact, "Wild Horses" is cut from the same cloth as "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "Thelma and Louise," with a touch of Tarantino thrown in. Partly an outlaw movie, partly a road movie, and partly a coming-of-age story, "Wild Horses" is filled with elements familiar to Hollywood cinema. But it also has a distinctly Argentine twist.
   Two disparate men, Jose (Hector Alterio), a septuagenarian anarchist, and Pedro (Leonardo Sbaraglia), a young banker, find themselves thrown together under extreme circumstances. In an opening sequence that far utpaces the rest of the film, Jose enters Pedro's bank and threatens suicide unless the young man gives him the $15,000 that Jose sayshe's owed. Seizing Pedro as a hostage, Jose finds himself in over his head. But soon he's taking tips from the young man, who to his own surprise, becomes a willing accomplice.
   Pedro and Jose flee the city and head for the outlying regions, but once the local newscasters get a whiff of their story Pedro and Jose become Argentina's Butch and Sundance. The media dubs them "The Indomitables" because they use their ingenuity to evade authorities and even distribute several hundred thousand dollars to the impoverished people of their homeland. Soon they've got another accomplice—a woman, Ana (Cecilia Dopazo)—on board, and the three outlaws are plotting their final, surprising escapade. Only in the ultimate sequence does the equivocal nature of the film's title become clear.
   There's some savvy media criticism here that is of course not unique to Argentina: How is it that the media creates heroes? How much do we really know about what we see and hear on television? "Wild Horses" never really answers all of its questions, and it gets bogged down in a narrative structure that is too long and ponderous for its own good. Though it never quite lives up to the fast-paced and entertaining promise of its first half-hour, it may be worth seeing just for that.    Starring Hector Alterio, Leonardo Sbaraglia and Cecilia Dopazo. Directed by Marcelo Pineyro. Written by Aida Bortnik and Marcelo Pineyro. Produced by Claudio Pustelnik. No distributor set. Drama. Spanish-language; subtitled. Running time: 122 min. Screened at the San Francisco fest.
Tags: Hector Alterio, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Cecilia Dopazo, Directed by Marcelo Pineyro, Written by Aida Bortnik, Marcelo Pineyro. Produced by Claudio Pustelnik, Drama, impoverished, nature, media, heroes

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