Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Unit 7 (orig. Grupo 7) [2012]

MPAA (UR would be R)  SensaCine (3 1/2 Stars)  Fr. Dennis (3  1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
SensaCine listing*

Correo de la Andalucia (J. Gallego Espina) article*

CineParaLeer (F. Lopez Bejarano) review* (S. Sanz) review*
SensaCine (A.G. Calvo) review*

Unit 7 (orig. Grupo 7) [2012] (directed by Alberto Rodríguez [IMDb] [SC]*, screenplay by Rafael Cobos [IMDb]) is a 6 Goya Award (Spain's equivalent of the Oscars) winning (largely fictionalized?) Police Detective Drama that played recently at the Chicago's 17th Annual European Film Festival held at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago.

The film's about a unit of anti-corruption police in Seville, Spain tasked with "cleaning up the town" in the years leading up to the 1992 World's Fair held there.  But how does one "clean up a town" of its vices to put on a "bella figura" without getting at least partly "tainted" in the process?  So this is about a unit of police officers that comes to realize that they really can "knock heads" and "do what they want" because the city's and indeed the countries' officials are willing to accept just about anything aside from "being made to look bad" at least "while the show's going on."  Afterwards?  Well ... who's gonna know ... or care?

The film's thematics are perennially current.  Last year, a film, Tlatelolco, Summer of 68 (orig. Tlatelolco, Verano del 68) [2013], played at Chicago's Latino Film Festival, about the Tienanmen style massacre of 300+ protesting university students in Mexico City in the run-up to the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games.  Then consider recent years: The Sochi Winter Olympics just ended, the Men's Soccer World Cup is scheduled to be held across Brazil this summer.  Then in 2016, Rio de Janeiro will be holding Latin America's first Summer Olympics and four years ago, in 2010, South Africa hosted that continent's first Men's Soccer World Cup.  In each case, there've been plenty of government officials who desperately didn't want to look bad, even as they wanted their events to "run smoothly, without incident," and yet the temptation to "cash in ..."

So in the crucible of the lead-up to the 1992 World's Fair is this unit of four vice cops, "anti-corruption police" -- rookie Angel (played by Mario Casas [IMDb] [SC]*) with a young wife (played by Inma Cuesta [IMDb] [SC]*), the unit's head Rafael (played by Antonio de la Torre [IMDb] [SC]*), Miguel played by José Manuel Poga [IMDb] [SC]* and the pudgy middle-aged, oldest guy in the unit Mateo (played by Joaquín Nuñez [IMDb] [SC]*) who becomes enamored with a similarly aged Madam (they've both been "around the block") going by the name Mahogany (played by Estefanía de los Santos [IMDb] [SC]*).

With an ensemble like this much can happen, and neither the script nor the actors/director disappoint.  yes, the Unit-7 becomes remarkably successful in getting arrests and otherwise driving crooks out of town.  But how exactly do they do it?  And in the end, does it, ANY OF IT, really matter? 

A very, very interesting and thought provoking "gritty police drama" from Spain.

* Foreign language webpages are most easily translated using Google's Chrome Browser.  

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