White powder, dealers and poseur women in a shady city you hardly get a glimpse of. Not to forget a man who introduces himself as a warrior talking to spirits. All the ingredients are set, the deceit is disclosed right from the start. In this first film showing great skill, Chris Gude’s bold bet is to take the opposite view of naturalism. Indeed, meagre plots are collected in bare settings, marked out by fixed frames with very straight lines, pure colours and almost monochromatic shots. An amazing, almost threatening quietness prevails, only reinforced by the serene voices, hieratic bodies and stylised actions, which give each meeting and each dialogue the obviousness of necessity. In that small world, meet Mascara, a warrior who has come down from his Columbian mountains, and his friend Primo. The two hieratic figures seem to be waiting. In the nooks and crannies of a claustrophobic city, whose hustle and bustle can be heard from afar, an unexpected body trade is taking place, with a 32-year-old prostitute claiming to be a virgin, alleged clients quite simply offering massages, and the story of a friendship between a man and a gorilla. Did this small theatre of waiting fall down to the world of the dead? We know nothing for sure, except that this world goes by the melancholic and nagging rhythm of mambo. (Jean-Pierre Rehm)
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