Film Review: Rage (Rabia)

This unnecessarily grim study of immigrants suffers from a deadly pace and an even more deadly creeping pretentiousness.

For the three Ds, those essential elements of Cinema of the Doldrums—dull, dreary and depressing—you could do no better than Sebastian Cordero's Rage (Rabia).

In Spain, two South American immigrants, a construction worker, José Maria (Gustavo Sánchez Parra), and a maid, Rosa (Martina Garcia), find their already precarious lives a-jumble when José Maria accidentally kills his boss. Unbeknownst to Rosa, he hides out in the very house she lives in and tends to. This "escape" from the law soon proves to be no more than a real prison, as José Maria must crouch in the shadows while watching his beloved interact with the family of her wealthy, elderly employers, which includes a horny lout of a son, an impossible situation that results in another murder and yet more living hell for the unfortunate immigrant.

If the characters of José Maria or Rosa were in any way truly attractive or compelling, this relentlessly grim film might have worked better. But there is little reason to identify with the hot-headed but morose hero and his very ordinary, downright mousy girlfriend. Cordero, however, seems to think the mere difficulty of their situations as overworked, underpaid aliens should consititute total viewer involvement. His direction is an unvaried, humorless stranglehold which results in a monotonous, all too self-serious cinematic experience. Rosa's rich, bickering and more complex bosses provide some colorful respite from this intolerably sorrowful couple, but not enough.

José Maria's inescapable trajectory has nowhere to go but down, of course, yet Cordero further overloads things by turning him into a scrawny, unshaven Christ figure by the end of the movie, a parallel that is both pretentious and completely unearned. And, as always with projects of this nature, there is an annoyingly insistent music score which underlines plot points already being hammered into your consciousness. The performances of the actors are all completely adequate, yet they are but mere pawns, trapped in an airtight, lifeless conception of ever-impending doom and gloom.