Bombón: El Perro (15)
Bombón: El Perro, directed by Carlos Sorin (b. 1944 Buenos Aires) has the charm of “Best in Show” combined with the sparseness and beauty of the post-war Neo-Realist school of film making. A very difficult combination to pull off successfully, our admiration for Sorin’s achievement is increased when we understand that all the actors are non-professionals and even use their own names. The finest performance also comes from a dog, and in this respect, as Sorin himself willingly admits, he was just very lucky to have found such a special example of the Argentine Dogo breed for one of his two main characters.
The main human character, Juan Villegas, is a resilient, determined 52 year old redundant mechanic. And whilst the film is delightful, the film’s origin is in Sorin’s concern for the unemployed. Sorin explained to the website, Film Focus when the film was released in 2004;
“El Perro is a story of an unemployed man. Unemployment is the biggest problem in Argentina. We have millions of people that come out every day looking for work, and large numbers of them give up and don’t look anymore. It is the mother of all the problems in our country, so I am touching a subject that is a tragic and important subject. And there are very few protective laws, and obviously the unemployed person, especially if he is over 50, feels that he is being completely cast aside from the world, marginalised. It is not even a case of salaries, it’s not even just survival, it is even deeper than that. It has to do with your sense of values of yourself and what you can offer to the world, and who you are. Because you are of course what you do most of the time and if you do nothing then you are not. So it’s a tragic theme and so I wanted to make a comedy using this as the background. Not in the traditional sense of the word, but bringing in the sort of humorous aspects. That’s Bombón, so it becomes a fable in a sense, like a story for children, with that sort of ingenuity and innocence. But certainly for the Argentines, is that it is current, which is the very dramatic content.”
Villega struggles to make a living selling knives door to door which isn’t easy when the doors may be 400 kms apart in the sparsely populated Patagonia region of Argentina. This region is beautifully photographed, and seems a good setting for a film about the harshness of the economic winds that blow through Latin America, but it is also an effective mysterious setting for the happy accident that, with a hint of magic realism, can transform a life. Sorin however, will take no credit for this and as the most modest of directors simply says that “if you film in Patagonia, you’ve already got the scenery and the set there waiting for you.”
Carlos Sorin | Argentina | 2004 | 97 minutes | 15