"Anger": Animating Rage By Diego Trerotola

in 30th Havana International Festival of the New Latinamerican Cinema

by Diego Gustavo Trerotola

Challenging orthodox storytelling, Anger (La rabia) develops a kind of narrative which accumulates intensity, a fury that is fired at every level, in every situation, until it is revealed as an escalation of film violence. It is a story where conflict erupts into pieces, to spread on a tour of overlapping pieces in depth. It is, therefore, a difficult film to bear because it maintains a state of brutal intensity for its entire journey. For its rawness, for its passion, at first glance it looks like a stone thrown out of sheer provocation, but in reality there is an intricate and subtle projectile mechanism.

Throughout her films, Albertina Carri had already proved to be a specialist in exploding stories. In her debut, No quiero volver a casa, she uses a hopscotch narrative to bring a criminal story with different figures of the convoluted family plot. And her second feature, The Blonds (Los Rubios), also operates in several dimensions: A political and autobiographical documentary turns into fiction and, at the same time, an animation extravaganza; three layers that go along bold, unthinkable paths to prove the consequences of the dictatorship and set a form of resistance. Thus, Carri’s freedom embodies a particular and specific way to go through various audio-visual experiences, traveling from fiction to animation and documentary, and then back again. No form, format, style or genre can stop their voracious pupil; there are no expressions more or less professional, she doesn’t believe in the supremacy of one form over another. For her, it seems, all forms are equal and free. Through these meanders, these multiple ways, Carri has become a director with the most unbiased view on the expressive forms of film, responsible for transcending the cinematic models of literary narrative. Thus, among her films, but also within most of them, Carri creates this strange syntax between styles and forms as a personal trademark, as the imprint of her eye that is not closed to experimentation — a lidless gaze that clogs the various possibilities of capturing light. (Her open cinematic eye may be the most extensive view of any Argentine filmmaker.) If her third film, Gemini (Géminis), is a melodrama that linearly follows a case study of incest that leads to madness, then Anger is the reverse of Gemini — a melodrama whose meat is dismembered before our very eyes.

In its rare and extreme melodramatic atmosphere, Anger is really closer to the Mexican Buñuel than it appears at first glance. Like the obscure stories of Susana or Ascent to Heaven (Subida al cielo), Anger gives a twist to the repeated representation of the rural life, far from bucolic or simple rawness, creating a complex portrait that includes characters with strange eroticism and desire as well as unique internal lives. In her own way, Carri divides her extremist and sexual melodrama into essential fragments, filmed from unusual angles or in glances from windows that demonstrate the dissection, in a game where voyeurism is rendered disturbing and analytical at the same time. Carri becomes a Buñuel who explores both the physical density of rural areas and the intimate, dreamlike world.

By abandoning the laws of textbook narrative, Anger was first delivered to the dramaturgy of the body, the wild flesh, the physical furor. But neither stalls there, neither is content with so little. Nati, the story’s central character, opens up a dreamlike surface in the film. The daughter of two workers, Nati has not developed the ability to speak, but emits primal screams as a series of animal moans. Hers is an eminently physical character, one who speaks with her entire body through a compulsion to strip that her parents want to correct. But she also communicates through crude drawings, a series of colorful pencil traces on white sheets that sketch concrete and vague shapes. Those pictures, converted into an animation that the film develops into a sequence that shatters the story, open the hatch inside the little girl. In this way, apart from a study of the physical environment and its rural characters, Anger is installed in the most intimate and bestial fantasy of Nati, and does so through experimental animation.

Although it is a constant in the work of the director, animation here takes on a new path, a new route. (Carri has used animation with objects, toys, in her previous films, but here are two-dimensional images in a perpetual movement between figuration and abstraction.) These sequences are part of the nightmarish imagination of a girl, but they are also a dreamlike, musical flow, a visual noise that stuns with its stylistic strangeness. And through remote, decidedly cinematic literary-narrative models, the film searches for and finds its own mechanism to blow out conventional representations. It’s with this miraculous mixture, ranging from analytical realism to weird animation, that Anger becomes a superposition of surface and depth in a libertarian cinematic way.