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The Burning (El Ardor)

Laurence Green finds Pablo Fendrick’s modern Western to be a beautifully shot but ultimately cliched movie.

The Burning


The spirit of Sergio Leone lives on in Pablo Fendrick’s taut but clichéd the Burning (national release) which offers more than a nod to Spaghetti Westerns of the past.

A mysterious tattooed stranger emerges from the Argentinian rainforest  to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a poor farmer from a band of murderous mercenaries who are after her father’s land. Fleeing into the woods, the pair form an instant bond before our stranger turns into a jungle warrior, harrying the invaders – whose ploy is to set fire to the farmer’s property to force them out – with an arsenal of traps and hastily fashioned spears. Initially cowed, the farmers, themselves, soon muster up the courage to help him, setting off a cat-and-mouse game where the hunters eventually become the hunted.

This is a film that is strong in atmosphere but short on plot, with a complete absence of character development, and the use of ponderous slow-motion at times. Dialogue is reduced to a minimum with emotions mapped out on the characters’ faces as they watch, wait and glare at their enemy in a tale of unfolding revenge. The tension, though, is ratcheted up in several sequences, most notably when a peaceful meal around a camp fire is shattered by the sound of gunfire as three men suddenly appear from nowhere, brandishing rifles and bringing death in their wake.

Gael Garcia Bernal brings a certain charisma to the role of the stone-faced outsider caught up in a bloody war from which there is no escape, while Alice Broga brings a certain fevered intensity ti the woman-in-peril role.

Furthermore the film is visually striking with some stunning landscape photography and a strong sense of mood and atmosphere. If you like Westerns you’ll probably enjoy this!

The Burning

Showing in selected cinemas nationwide

Last modified: July 1, 2015

Written by 10:26 am Film