Una de dos is set against the rural backdrop of Argentina in 2002 as a protracted recession and a government-instituted, desperate measure austerity plan to rescue the national economy from insolvency through the devaluation of its currency and announced default on its foreign debt has led to widespread rioting and worker strikes in the cities that has effectively crippled the country’s economic backbone. A low-level mob courier trafficking in counterfeit currency, Martin, is directed to discontinue operations and maintain a low profile until contacted. Inevitably, Martin’s return home to the rural province that is seemingly removed from the chaos and socio-political instability of the urban areas (an abandoned train platform and overlooking tracks reinforces this appearance of isolation) illustrates the far-reaching repercussions of the economic crisis as neighborhood shop owners are forced to turn away friends and family by refusing to operate on credit, workers struggle to devise ways to subsidize their wage shortfall (often in vain), local businesses are shuttered indefinitely (in an incisive sequence of the three young women strolling through the empty market streets that is seemingly only inhabited by stray dogs (a scenario that recalls the running motif of Béla Tarr’s Damnation), and a sense of moral desolation has taken root, manifesting in increased acts of recklessness (implied in Pilar’s story of her abducted, hitchhiking cousin) and chemical dependency. Following in the vein of contemporary Argentinean cinema in which the narrative is subtly explored through minute observations of the quotidian, Alejo Hernán Taube creates a competent and insightful portrait of sentimental inertia borne of economic uncertainty. Unfortunately, the film strays from its focus through the inclusion of tangential sex scenes that are neither motivated by money (which would have reinforced the idea of human commodification) nor by emotional desperation (which would have served as a broader comment on the demoralized social psyche), creating disposable episodes that serve only to showcase the physical appeal of the handsome lead actor, and diluting the film’s more potent images of aimless, instinctual survival.
© Acquarello 2004. All rights reserved.