A Common Crime (Un Crimen Común)
From the outset A Common Crime puts the viewer in a place of discomfort. During the opening, set in a fairground surrounded by masks, there is a distinct feeling that something untoward is just waiting around the corner. The unsettling score by Orlando Scarpa Neto imbues the narrative with an eerie sense of foreboding as the audience waits patiently to see what this event might be.
The intentionally slow pace feels a little frustrating at first, as Cecilia (played with understated brilliance by Elisa Carricajo) seems to be moving with relative ease through her middle class existence. Intimate cinematography makes it feel as though we are entering into her happy domesticity, giving us an immediate connection to her mind; it is through her that we experience the story. As an audience you could be forgiven for a lack of patience with the initial considered pace of the film, but just when you think nothing could break the domestic bubble, things change in an instant. Effective sound design by Abel Tortorelli shatters the calm, and Cecilia’s world is turned upside down.
Just like its title, the film is a slightly unsubtle dig at Argentina’s class system. Cecilia is a middle-class sociology teacher teaching Marxism to her students when her life is interrupted by the troubles of a working-class family living in the slums of Buenos Aires. The realism of the script and the naturalistic performances show us that this is very much the reality in Argentina today. Cecilia’s comfortable world is interrupted by a revelation that ultimately leads to her unravelling. However, the focus on the personal rather than wider ramifications means the film slightly misses its mark. It morphs almost into a horror film in the vein of The Babadook, with Cecilia seeing things that may or may not be really there.
However, Cecilia’s descent into guilt-ridden madness is played with frightening accuracy by Carricajo, who more or less carries the entire film herself. The subtle changes in her face and the fear in her eyes are captivating, along with the haunting soundscape that builds to an uncomfortable crescendo.
Perhaps not as effective as intended, A Common Crime is nonetheless an interesting exploration of the expanding distance between the classes in modern day Argentina and the injustices suffered as a result of it.
A Common Crime (Un Crimen Común) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2020 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for A Common Crime (Un Crimen Común) here: