2009 // Mexico - Spain // Sebastián Cordero // November 16, 2010 // Theatrical Print (Landmark Plaza Frontenac Cinema)
Sebastián Cordero's desolate, ache-laden thriller Rage accomplishes an uncertain bait-and-switch, gradually revealing a film quite dissimilar from the one its opening gestures suggest. At the outset, it's evident that seething laborer José María (Gustavo Sánchez Parra) harbors a violent temper that's going to land him and beatific squeeze Rosa (Martina García) in hot water. And it does, in short order, leading José to hole up in the attic of the mansion where Rosa works as a maid (without her knowledge). What begins as a Hitchcock- and Coen-tinged crime fiasco evolves into something quieter and more melancholy. José's boiling resentments are an ever-present factor, but the film eventually emerges as a tragic parable about separation, secrets, and shame. Cordero's stylistic approach, which embraces gangrenous shadow, loopy angles, and prowling camerawork, plainly cribs from the slicker side of recent Spanish-language genre cinema, especially The Orphanage and Timecrimes. While Rage's allegorical nods prove to be weak tea, it functions remarkably well strictly as a distressing, sorrowful story about damnation (of all stripes). Cordero's film suggests that our private hells are edifices of both personal and societal flaws, and that the path to liberation is not easy just because it is obvious.