White Elephant

With City of God and the Elite Force films there isnt a shortage of angles on the South Americas slum issue, a sort of sub genre all of its own which, perhaps because of the issues involved, seems to be spawning some really heartfelt and innovative films. White Elephant is no exception. Whilst this is set in Buenos Aires, Argentina, rather than Brazil, it feels familiar, it is a home to many people, a home with a mutitude of issues, but a home none the less. The characters we follow here have issues of their own, but their faith is what guides them as they try to address just some of those issues. I am certainly not one to buy into films with religious themes, but this isnt preachy and its portrayal of two priests is made somehow more tangible by their relationship with a social worker who has little interest in their world of ritual and tradition – which in itself is often used to juxtapose the violence and chaos. Its intelligently realistic, there is no helpful soliloquizing here to let you know what people are thinking. This is because it is complicated, both the situation as a whole and the situations in which the individual characters find themselves. When you watch a film with absolutely loads of title cards letting you know where the money came from it usually means one of two things, everyone lent someone 50p to make a crap movie, or everyone gave what they could because they really believed in the project. White Elephant is absolutely of the latter.

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