Directed by: Carlos Sorin
Countries & Regions: Argentina, Spain
Length: 94 mins
Region: Region 2
Released: 10 October 2005
Cat No: P916501000
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Bombon El Perro
Foreign drama set against the vast expanses of Patagonia. Juan (Juan Villegas) is a middle-aged mechanic made redundant after 20 years.... Read More
Carlos Sorin, who has just turned 60, may be something of a great-uncle to the new wave of Argentinean directors, but his latest shows a man very much on form. Bombón El Perro was an enormous word of mouth hit on the arthouse circuit, and deservedly so.
Coco (Juan Villegas) is an amiable, middle-aged loser who has spent his entire life working in a Patagonian service station and, when it suddenly closes, finds himself in a desperate fix. Salvation comes in the form of a Bombón, a mastiff given to him as payment for an odd job, with which the clueless Coco decides to try his hand on the dog show circuit.
This whimsical and delightful film is the sort that creates swathes of emotional resonance with the gentlest flick of the wrist. Sorin has to do little more than point his camera at Villegas - a non-actor with the strangest, most distracted persona - to elicit humour, absurdity and pathos. And when Coco and Bombón stride onto the stage, it’s a truly special moment. This would make a great double-bill with Best In Show, Christopher Guest’s mockumentary on the dog show world.
The opening scenes of Bombon El Perro hint at a grim study of the trials of the proletariat in Argentina, as ageing knife-seller Juan (Juan Villegas) fails to make a sale, and then must bribe a police officer to avoid arrest. Not so; Bombon El Perro is a highly appealing comedy from the director of Historias Minimas (Carlos Sorin), which shifts gear once Villegas acquires the eponymous canine, a top-breed bulldog. Suddenly his luck changes, as he is offered a job as a security guard, Bombon wins a prize in a competition and other breeders wish to hire the dog for stud purposes.
The naturalistic acting from the non-professional cast works very well, as the underplaying brings out the film's dry humour. Unsurprisingly, though, it is Bombon (in his debut role!) himself who steals every scene he is in. The dialogue-free shot of the comically morose dog sitting next to a slightly unnerved Villegas in the front seat of his van is a great sight gag. This optimistic, appealing tale acts as an ode to the resolve of the disenfranchised; in spite of their problems, Juan, Bombon and the poor of Argentina can triumph over their potentially sorry lot. And triumph they do.