Heroic Losers – movie review

Sebastián’s Borensztein’s Heroic Losers is a feel-good comedy set in a small Argentinian community in the early 2000s.

Fermin Perlassi (Ricardo Darin) and his wife, Lidia (Veronica Llinas), decide they will take over an abandoned grain store facility and form a cooperative. Doing so will require financial input from many of the locals who are also their friends. They find traction, but still fall well short of their US$250,000 target. Input of US$100,000 by the most successful businesswoman in town pushes the figure up to US$158,653, which they put into a safety deposit box at the bank. That however isn’t enough to secure a loan from the institution.

An accountant advises Perlassi to deposit the money in the bank (rather than simply paying for it to be held under lock and key) and that will do the trick. But he’s taken Perlassi for a ride, because he’s learned of an financial collapse that will be triggered in the country by the next day. That means Perlassi and the other members of collective will only be allowed to withdraw very small amounts of money at any time for the foreseeable future. Then, to make matters worse, a councillor has fleeced the bank of all its cash reserves, so there’s no money left to withdraw at all. Things go from bad to worse for Perlassi, until he and the other members of the collective hatch a plan to get back at the councillor who ruthlessly exploited them (and other depositors) while the economy was in freefall.

Heroic Losers is a delightful example of yarn spinning. Suspend belief, strap in and allow yourself to take the rollicking ride with Perlassi and friends. A key part of the fanciful but enjoyable script are the colourful characters that make the film the joy that it largely is. Some have their limitations, but, for the most part, they’re rowing in the same direction – quirky though they may be – and happy to help each other out. We get a taste of each of their respective personalities.

Perlassi is the glue that binds the production together and Darin steps effortlessly into his shoes. Llinas is buoyant in realising his larger-than-life wife. Each of the principal and secondary players do well.

My only reservations were what I saw as a stretched running time (of nearly two hours) – which really wasn’t necessary – and a spoiler midway through (meaning the second half is shamelessly signposted). Still, the movie will undoubtedly put smiles on a lot of faces.

Alex First

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