La Cordillera (The Summit)
4th October 2017 8.45pm at BFI Southbank
5th October 2017 12.30pm at empire
15th October 2017 8.40pm at Picturehouse Central
By Argentinian director Santiago Mitre, La Cordillera (The Summit) is a stylish psychological thriller about political intrigue and deception in the Americas. Co-written by Mitre with Mariano Llinas, the movie’s narrative takes place at a presidential summit in the Chilean Andes 3,000 metres up – dizzying heights are a repeated thematic and photographic element, symbolising the rarified atmosphere of power, a surreal quality in terms of diplomatic manoeuvrings, as well as the nature of main character, Argentinian president Hernan Blanco’s (Ricardo Darín) personal life. Severe turbulence during Blanco’s flight to Chile – when he is informed of a scandal involving his son-in-law – foretells the trouble ahead.
With a quick pace, simmering tension, and wry irony, the story hints at possible corruption with dreams, recovered memories, and accusations among family members, and boldly presents it with clandestine meetings, in particular one with American envoy Dereck McKinley (Christian Slater) and President Blanco to arrange a spurious deal. McKinley: “We can speak frankly?”. Blanco: “At a political meeting? We can try”. The work lampoon’s US arrogance with McKinley’s attitude, when he states that there are so many world presidents that to keep track of them would be bothersome for America; and with his smug statement: “We are the ones who made up the game. We are unbeatable”.
A seasoned journalist (Elena Anaya) is assigned to interview each president. She asks Blanco whether leaders view good and evil differently to the public. It is at about this point that the question of possible malfeasance begins to reveal itself. Blanco’s professional demeanour starts to tenuously crack under the weight of his daughter Marina’s (Dolores Fonzi) mental instability, and supposedly recovered memories, threatening to break his veneer.
The excellent cast in this piece is illustrious with big names in South American cinema such as Darin, Anaya, Paulina Garcia as President Scherson of Chile and, of course, US star Christian Slater – and each of the actors playing a chief of state is famous in their own country. Ricardo Darin is impeccable, a strong charismatic performer who maintains subtle expression and feeling under a controlled surface very adeptly.
One element of issue is an unsatisfying ending that leaves the viewer with more questions than answers. Otherwise, La Cordillera is an unusual, compelling and entertaining thriller.
La Cordillera (The Summit) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.