Argentinian cinema seems to reflect, in its own way, Argentina. At the turn of the century, his films had a vigor and a vitality that they perhaps reflected, even before the shift prompted by the presidency of Nestor Kirchnerthe expectation of a future equal to what the country was at the beginning of the last century.
Little by little, this vitality seems to be exhausted. Dependence on co-productions may be one of the reasons for the worsening of the current shortage, but not only. When we cross “Águas Selvagens”, we have the impression that the marsh announced by Lucrece Martel now it’s everywhere.
Including, or especially, in the direction of Roly Santos, which does not skimp on flourishes and aerial shots (especially at the beginning of the film), at the same time as it fails to convey a reasonable idea of what is the geography of the place, where the action takes place.
We are in a place where a horrible crime has taken place. The victim’s brother calls Detective Gualtieri to solve a murder involving his family. Nothing is different from the tradition of film noir in Óscar Tabernise’s screenplay – the detective is an ex-policeman who arrives from Buenos Aires, hired to solve the case in a village in the border region of Argentina, from Brazil and Paraguay. However, he soon discovers that the murder in question is just a plot detail in front of him (and sometimes behind his back).
The most favorable point comes from the composition of Gualtieri, which escapes the Humphrey Bogart model of the detective. He is disillusioned, full of past pains, sorrows well marked in his always shaved beard, in his always casual clothes. If he is not impulsive like the “private eyes” of the United States, he does not have the brilliant intuition to Maigret created by Simenon.
Gualtieri gropes through the uncertain terrain that the enemy offers, without even knowing who the enemies are. And the plot ranges from the presence of goons everywhere to a murder with the removal of the victim’s penis. Sometimes it is possible to think that his greatest enemy is the composer of the very weak musical score.
But no. The film’s difficulty in finding a good framing (despite the preciousness) seems to weigh more on its investigations, as well as one or two screenplay blunders, which make the characters suddenly become the opposite of what they are, among other things.
More than anything, however, the lack of clarity in the images weighs. Clarity is an indispensable attribute of this category of films, because the plot, inevitably, is always full of surprising twists.
One might wonder why speak of a pessimism accompanied by weaknesses that seem to be more and more present in recent Argentine cinema. The waters evoked in the film seem, more than wild, muddy.
Not to mention the initial murder, henchmen and accomplices that swarm the hotels in the square (that’s about all we know where the events take place), there are also good people hearts that reveal themselves. All of this is usual. Less common is the storyline about cases of child trafficking and pedophilia – that’s what a lot of people on this border deal with,
It is true that he does it with delicacy. The possible delicacy in these cases, which seem more violent when seen – sometimes the plot seems more suited to the crime novel on which it is based.
When you watch “Wild Waters”, you can remember “The Swamp” and compare the two. Not the virtues, incomparably greater in Martel’s film, but other things. It seems that pessimism, defeatism and wickedness have taken over the country once and for all. At least that’s what the film directed by Roly Santos suggests.