Rabia -- Film Review

Benjamin Walker
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NEW YORK - OCTOBER 13:  Actor Benjamin Walker attends the "Bloody Bloody Jackson" opening night after party at Brasserie 8 1/2 on October 13, 2010 in New York City.

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The plight of immigrant workers has been well documented on screen, but it's not every day their stories are given a creepy, film noir overlay.

Such, however, is the case of "Rabia," an effectively atmospheric suspense drama by Ecuadorian Sebastian Cordero ("Cronicas") that starts out conveying the day-in-a-life naturalism of a Ken Loach film before venturing into decidedly Hitchcockian territory.
While it doesn't hurt to have the name Guillermo del Toro among your film's producers, Cordero should be able to attract a distributor on his own considerable merit.

A pair of South American immigrants trying to eke out a livelihood in Spain, Gustavo Sanchez Parra's Jose Maria, a construction worker, and Martina Garcia's Rosa, a housekeeper, are a few weeks into a very passionate relationship.

But when a violent confrontation between the hot-headed Jose Maria and his foreman ends tragically, he takes refuge, unbeknownst to his girlfriend, in the huge attic of the run-down mansion where Rosa works for an elderly couple whose family is likewise falling apart at the seams.

Ultimately Jose Maria's ideal hideout turns into a prison, allowing him to keep tabs on his lover from the shadows, but denying him further physical contact with her.

Adapting the Sergio Bizzio novel, Cordero keeps the tension tightly coiled as his protagonist gradually becomes a ghostly captive of is own festering rage.

With appropriately moody assist from Enrique Chediak's voyeuristic steadicam and Eugenio Caballero's production design (that crumbling mansion is a sinister character all on its own), Cordero blends the prevailing moral and physical decay to intriguingly intense effect.

Production companies: Telecino Cinema, Dynamo, Think Studio
Cast: Gustavo Sanchez Parra, Martina Garcia, Concha Velasco, Xavier Elorriaga
Director-screenwriter: Sebastian Cordero
Executive producers: Andres Calderon, Cristian Conti, Michel Ruben, Elena Manrique, Guadalupe Balaguer, Manuel Sanchez Ballesteros, Jaime Ortiz de Artinano
Producers: Alvaro Augustin, Rodrigo Guerrero, Eneko Lizarraga, Bertha Navarro Guillermo del Toro
Director of photography: Enrique Chediak
Production designer: Eugenio Caballero
Music: Lucio Godoy
Editor: David Gallart
Sales: Wild Bunch
No rating, 95 minutes