Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Viggo Mortensen proves another facet of his versatility in Ana Piterbarg’s regrettably glum, plodding drama-thriller Everybody Has A Plan, not only speaking Spanish, but also assuming double duty as he plays twins at each other’s throats in Buenos Aires’ forbidding underbelly. Pedro (Mortensen) is a bee-keeper living in one of the city’s run-down provinces and suffering from poor health. He has grown suspicious of the fellow criminals he associates with, and so goes to visit twin brother Agustín with the hope of catching a break, but finds that his brother has his own set of problems, resulting in one violently explosive act that changes everything.

To say more about the pic’s plot would be giving the game away – though you can probably guess the blackly comic punch-line from the outset – and Piterbarg herself seems equally circumspect as a screenwriter, bathing her bleak drama in airy silence over expository dialogue, allowing the audience to piece together the crux of the narrative themselves. At bare bones, it seems to be concerned with the power of deception, as well as the notion of duality and second chances.

Her film also has a strong sense of place, accentuated by the beautiful if painstaking shooting style, but the overall effect is diminished by the languid pacing and overlong runtime. It could easily have been chopped down by a half-hour without cutting anything of substance, or on a more oblique level even really hampering the meditative, methodical quality that Piterbarg was aiming for. When the film eventually grinds to a climax – which is oddly lacking in suspense and lazily allegorises humans with bees – it is likely long past the time viewers will be able to even feign caring.

Everybody Has A Plan is the sort of film that could effortlessly be adapted into a decent bit of Hollywood pulp, if its dead-seriousness is stripped away along with some of the more typical art-house excesses. Perhaps the biggest surprise is how scant the character development is, given its meaty run-time and slow-burn approach to the relationship of two twin brothers. This is a low-energy Argentinian thriller that hasn’t got a clue what it should do with Viggo Mortensen’s reliably committed performance.

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This article was first posted on October 25, 2012