There is an implicit moral cynicism in the title of this engrossing film from Argentina, which in Spanish is called TODOS TENEMOS UN PLAN. We all have a plan, a game to play, a scam, perhaps, things we want and a way to get them. In this film, there are those who want love, money, children, sex, to be left alone, to wipe away an old life and start a new one.

It is rife with the Kierkegaardian irony of an unhappy existence, that there is a fine line between wishing to be someone else and the suicidal impulse: to want to be immortal is in a sense a death wish, for to be no longer a mortal being would be to be oneself no more. One day the shiftless twin of a respectable pediatrician turns up at his brother’s door; one wishes to live and throw off his shackles, the other is ready to die. We can guess well enough which one will walk out that door, and back to what life and under what name, but the psychology as to why, and whether the plan it entails has any chance of success, are what keep our attention and our interest.

The film goes from Buenos Aires to the delta town of Tigre, a community north of the city that is part Venice and part Bayou in its ambiance. It is fascinating, if you have been there, to see the seedier backwaters of a place that is a vacation retreat for Argentines and a day trip for tourists. The writing and directing by Ana Piterbarg is deeply human and naturalistic, the story gritty and tender, and the acting first rate. Not a figure in the tale wants his or her life to remain as it is, not the pediatrician’s wife, who wants to raise an adopted child; not the pediatrician, who does not; nor the ne’er-do-well twin, who is ready to die; nor the interesting young woman whom the brother left behind in Tigre; wishes his or her life to stay as is.

The cast is fantastic. Viggo Mortensen is at his very best as both twins (he was raised in Argentina and is fluent in Spanish). I especially liked Sofía Gala as the woman in Tigre, but also Soledad Villamil’s performance as the doctor’s spouse, which is subtly shaded and emotionally complex, like the movie itself, and its evocative setting.

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