Tale of vehicular homicide fails to drive home its point

 

By RENE RODRIGUEZ | rrodriguez@MiamiHerald.com

In the Argentine drama Sin retorno ( No Return), a young driver named Matias (Martín Slipak) accidentally strikes a stranded bicyclist. Believing the man is dead, the teen ditches his vehicle and tells his father (Luis Machín) he was the victim of a carjacking.

But the biker didn’t die — he is hospitalized in critical condition — and his grieving father (the great Federico Luppi), enraged that he may lose his only son while the hit and run driver remains free, takes to the media and creates an uproar. Matias initially sticks to his story, but cracks in his tale begin to appear when he’s interrogated by an insurance adjuster. The boy’s conscience eventually grows too heavy ,and he confesses the truth to his parents — who react by helping him permanently dispose of his automobile.

When the bicyclist dies, and an innocent man ( Burnt Money’s Leonardo Sbaraglia) is charged with vehicular manslaughter, Matias’ guilt threatens to consume him. But his father insists all will be well if everyone keeps on pretending nothing ever happened.

No Return, which marks the debut of director Miguel Cohan, begins on a contrived note: The accident that opens the film is creakily orchestrated, requiring the biker to get hit by two passing cars in the span of a few minutes. But the movie settles into an intriguing groove once Matias realizes he may be off the hook as long as he can maintain his pretense of innocence. The story becomes even more engrossing after his parents become part of his lie, exploring the lengths to which a father will go in order to protect his child.

But the picture doesn’t settle for delving into the tension this juicy scenario offers. Instead, No Return jumps ahead several years to become a story of revenge and, in the process, the characters become chess pieces the director shuffles around in hopes of creating suspense. At that, the movie fails. What you end up with is a hugely anticlimactic story that barrels right past its considerable potential.

Movie Info

Cast: Martín Slipak, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Federico Luppi, Luis Machín, Bárbara Goenaga.

Director: Miguel Cohan.

Screenwriters: Ana Cohan, Miguel Cohan.

Producers: Gerardo Herrero, Mariela Besuievsky, Vanessa Ragone.

Running time: 100 minutes. Vulgar language, adult themes. In Spanish with English subtitles. Plays at 9 p.m. Wednesday and 7 p.m. Saturday at the Tower and at 9:15 p.m. Friday at Regal South Beach.

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