When you remember Albertina Carri’s images, you remember them as dark, cold, and — as black and white. Anger (La rabia) may be a dark and cold film; it’s for sure not a black-and-white film. Carri uses a worked-out dramaturgy of colors. She shows a remote landscape of the Argentinean ‘pampas,’ the prairie, in paled-out, brownish colors without any contrast of light and shadow. The sun doesn’t shine into this world. She introduces, however, strong and bright color spots as counterpoints — preferably red, the color of blood. These are moments of shock. Her editing and the sound design also follow this aesthetic of shock. When you begin to arrange yourself within this world, you’re again put at a distance.
To talk about Anger requires first addressing Carri’s personal view of this world she’s unveiling. “La rabia” is not only the name of a saloon where the farmers meet and drink. It also represents her feelings toward this retarded part of the country. It’s a hermetically sealed-off world which she shows. It’s a world full of violence. (By the way, the better translation of ‘rabia’ would be rage – the rage you feel when you’re confronted with injustice, cruelty and inhumanity.)
Albertina Carri uses animals to develop her merciless universe. Dogs chase and kill a rabbit; weasels are put into a sack, beaten against a tree, and then drowned in a river; a dog is shot; a pig is slaughtered, in an unexpectedly long scene full of close-ups on details. Animals are, in this film, beasts which do harm and need to be killed.
Her daring and frightening idea is to extend that point of view to human beings, the farmers and their families. They are seen in the same pitiless way, without any warmth or sympathy. A young boy is handicapped. A young girl is mute. The young boy is beaten by his father almost to death, only because he didn’t obey him. A farmer has sex with his neighbor-farmer’s wife, which leads to a cold-blooded murder. The young boy kills his father, another cold-blooded murder. There are atrocities everywhere: Human beings are also beasts, says the film. They are part of this brutal world, without sentiment or feelings. Even the sex scenes don’t have the slightest glimmer of ‘love’: They are pure, excessive, mechanic adultery. With incredible force and consequence, Carri eliminates all traditional values of human ‘living-together’ from her film. Anger is a film about how human beings become beasts whose only purpose is to survive. You kill, or you get killed.
Yes, there’s hope. It’s connected with the two kids, the mute girl and the handicapped boy, on whose perspective the film focuses. In the opening scene, the girl ‘dances,’ lost in thought through wide fields. The boy amuses himself with his dogs. We see a friendship growing between the two, an understanding that does not need words. But their childhood dreams, their naive expectations from life, don’t have any chance to come true, not in Carri’s universe. In the character of the girl, she embeds two striking expressions for the girl’s inner situation. When the girl can no longer take the reality around her, she screams. She’s mute, but her yell is bloodcurdling. And she makes wild, abstract drawings which reflect her inner chaos. (One of her drawings allows, by the way, her father to discover his wife’s adultery.) The boy, on the other hand, becomes with the murder of his father the last victim of the ‘system.’
In all of Carri’s work (the documentary The Blonde — Los rubios, her first feature Gemini), Anger is the film where she keeps the most distance from her characters, not allowing any approaches to them. Her world is hermetically sealed from the viewer’s life experience. This is the film’s strength and at the same time its weakness. It puts the characters in a sort of laboratory where they are dissected, as if under a microscope. She does not give the smallest psychological or social key and explanation, but consequently builds her dark vision of a world which transforms human beings into beasts.
Among the films produced by Pablo Trapero’s Matanza Cine production company, Anger is probably the film which goes furthest in this direction. We’re curious to see if Carri can go, in her next film, any further in her exploration of the dark side of Argentina’s society.