Mauro, from director Hernán Rosselli, follows the title character as he concocts a forgery plan and meticulously tries to pull it off with exacting detail. The film features a towering performance from Mauro Martínez as this character, a man caught between his illegal aspirations and the real-life entanglements that draw his attention away from the ultimate prize.
The film is quite low-key and perhaps a bit slow in parts; however, as a character study, Mauro exceeds in its quiet ambition to follow one character through a series of vignettes. The audience joins him from conversation to conversation, from setting to setting, and if it weren’t for the illicit activity at the center of the narrative, it would almost seem as if this is a typical day-in-the-life story. Mauro loves. Mauro hurts. Mauro is frustrated. Mauro laughs. The fact that he’s also a forger is almost secondary to his characterization.
Rosselli takes his time with the script, which he also wrote. He lets dialogue linger, and there’s a genuine sense of improvisation and organic acting that’s achieved amongst the ensemble. When Mauro and his new girlfriend spend time together, it’s almost as if Rosselli has hit record and let the actors evolve the relationship.
When the action kicks into high gear, and the consequences of their illegal activity is laid bare, Mauro becomes less of a character study and more of a cautionary tale. Mauro may seem like a decent enough fellow, but this nagging suspicion about the character bubbles to the surface. Difficult and dark questions are asked, and the answers are never easy to comprehend or categorize. That makes him real and flawed.
The actual scenes depicting the forging are interesting because they allow another window into who this man actually is. With precise detail, he brings this monetary currency to life, and he’s ever scrupulous over the final product. Perhaps that’s why Mauro struggles in life: At one turn, he’s driven to to this illegal activity with a scalpel-like dedication, yet he’s unable to completely shed that mentality when sitting amongst friends and lovers.
The film, which recently played a New York City program thanks to Cinema Tropical and Anthology Film Archives, is a slow-build drama, but for those willing to wait and spend time with this character, there are some interesting revelations.
By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com
Mauro (2014), written and directed by Hernán Rosselli, stars Mauro Martínez. The film from Argentina runs 80 minutes and is presented in Spanish with English subtitles. Rating: