Hats off to Viggo Mortensen. The actor pulls off playing identical twins in this Argentinian thriller – which never quite lives up to his talents. A lesser actor would make the whole thing look gimmicky. Not Mortensen, who’s fierce, totally immersed and utterly convincing as both brothers. One, Agustín, is a respectable, cashmere-cardy-wearing doctor in Buenos Aires. His brother, Pedro, still lives on one of the maze of islands where they grew up – a wild-west, back-of-beyond place of outlaws and rough justice. Pedro is messed up in a two-bit kidnap that goes wrong, and his hacking cough tells us he’s not long for this world. Out of the blue, he visits his brother in the city. Does he want a cure? Or to be put out of his misery?
Mortensen, although born in New York, spent part of his childhood in Buenos Aires and looks completely at ease. Not so the film. It sprawls into a kind of swamp-noir as Agustín returns to his childhood home, alone (thankfully: because when the twins appear together you can’t help but be distracted, looking for the body double). He’s pretending to be Pedro, which throws up some tense scenes. Why does the man in the local shop look like he wants to kill him? But the story doesn’t add up. Why is he leaving his cosy, middle-class life? Once he realises the trouble Pedro is in, why doesn’t he scarper? Still, this film offers hope to aspiring filmmakers everywhere. First-time director Ana Piterbarg approached Mortensen at a sports club in Buenos Aires. The rest is history.