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Cold Sweat (2011)
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by Jay Seaver

"Explosively absurd, in the best way."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2011 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Cold Sweat" is silly and ridiculous in just about every way it can be, but it's the sort of ridiculous that works. Director Adrián García Bogliano and company do a nice job of adding just a little bit more crazy with each reel, making for a fun midnight movie.

Back in 1975, the film informs us, a group of Argentine rebels stole twenty-five boxes of dynamite, but nothing came of it at the time. Today, Roman (Facundo Espinosa) is looking for his ex-girlfriend Jacquie (Camila Velasco), who appears to have left him for some blond guy she met online. Fortunately, he's got help; his friend Ali (Marina Glezer) is able to track down where this guy lives from his IP address. When they get there, the run-down house is home not to the lothario they were looking for, but a couple of old guys - Gordon (Omar Musa), who uses a walker, and Baxter (Omar Gioiosa), who is somewhat more mobile.

One should not underestimate old guys, either in movies or in real life. They are the people that natural selection hasn't figured out how to stop yet, and the older they are, the more likely they are to have learned how to mess you up over the course of their lives. It's not giving too much away to say that Gordon and Baxter are the villains of the piece, and they're an enjoyably unconventional choice for the job; ideology seems to have given way to extreme crotchetiness. Some senility, too, but really, having them just resent young people is enough. In addition, they're clearly sick of each other after thirty-five years cooped up together but neither able to imagine life without the other. Omars Musa and Gioiosa play off each other amusingly, with a natural chemistry as they bicker and both managing to give their characters an actual threatening air even as the movie has a laugh at their age and infirmity.

Bogliano and company make the idea of an action movie with slow and weak antagonists work, though. The centerpiece of the movie evens the odds by putting the nitroglycerine extracted from the dynamite into play, and the result is an unabashed homage to William Friedkin's Sorcerer but also delightfully absurd - a chase scene at the speed of an old man in a walker with participants who could just blow up if they stumble and fall (and if it involves gratuitous nudity, so much the better). It's one of several strange action scenes in the movie, not many of which are really close to that one - some elements are really quite random, like Bogliano and his co-writers had ninety minutes to fill and were willing to cram whatever might fit in. Points for handling the scourge of thriller screenwriters everywhere (mobile phones) in a creative, though unlikely, manner.

The cast is game for it, at least. I suspect that they're not the greatest actors that Argentina has to offer, but they handle the physical stuff easily and they get us to like the heroes well enough. Facundo Espinosa plays Roman as the sort of big lug who's maybe not terribly bright but isn't stupid either, and has that work in his favor because he can just accept weird situations. One of the things he maybe doesn't see is just how ridiculously loyal Ali is, with Marina Glezer overemphasizing some things but making the character as a whole work. Camila Velasco probably has the easiest character to play, mostly having to be scared/freaked out, but she's on point.

In the harsh light of day, sure, there's a chance that "Cold Sweat" is going to look ludicrous; there's really not a single element of it that's not silly in some way. It's a well put-together insanity, though, feeding the audience a steady stream of creative thrills that are all the more fun for their nuttiness.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=22187&reviewer=371
originally posted: 08/15/11 23:30:06
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2011 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2011 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2011 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the Fantasia International Film Festival 2011 series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 47th Chicago International Film Festival For more in the 47th Chicago International Film Festival series, click here.

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  DVD: 17-Jan-2012

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