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Los Debutantes Review

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Silvio (Cantillana) takes his brother Victor (Miranda) to a lap-dancing club as a birthday treat, and both get involved with Gracia (Rios), a complicated stripper, and Don Pascual (Trejo), her gangster boyfriend. A few days of sex, scheming and violence are presented three times, from the differing perspectives of the brothers and the girl.

★★★★★

This chilean low-life noir has a slightly different gimmick from the overlapping but separate stories of Amores Perros or the subjective takes on one incident in Rashomon. We see a few days in the lives of three young folks mixed up with a volatile gangster three times in succession, but each telling fills in bits of plot withheld earlier.

Depth is added as we learn things the characters are too self-involved to notice. Yet the film still doesn’t answer its big question: is the slinky Gracia (Rios), whose dancing act memorably involves whipped cream pasties and thong, an entrapped innocent, a scheming killer bitch or a desperate mother?

Director Andrés Waissbluth gets good work from his strong cast, but this story needs to be told in a tricksy way to keep the attention, as the fresh-from-the-sticks brothers have to be naive enough to get mixed up with business which is obviously going to end badly.

In the end, the gimmick makes the characters too shallow to be really engaging — they never ask the questions we do while watching the film, or even care about the answers. That may be the point, but it makes this an admirable rather than affecting picture.

A strong cast and great idea, even if its content can’t always match the style.