(Screened at Fantastic Fest; release TBA)
A fully loaded SUV, parked on a Buenos Aires street, is the setting for “4×4,” a “Saw”-inspired take on income inequality from Argentine director Mariano Cohn. A petty thief named Ciro (Peter Lanzani) breaks into the car to steal the stereo, only to find himself trapped when the owner (Dady Brieva) — a medical doctor who has been victimized before and set this trap specifically for this purpose — locks the doors and disables the power remotely. (He can control the heat and air-conditioning, too.) The entire car is bullet- and soundproof, and the windows are tinted so no one can see inside. Ciro’s stuck forever.
It’s fun watching Ciro use all of his ingenuity to seek escape, and Lanzani does better at keeping us engaged than a lot of actors might with such thin material. Ciro and his captor communicate through the car’s audio system, allowing us to hear the doctor’s viewpoints, which are reinforced by the zero-tolerance actions of the fascistic neighborhood watch that we see patrolling the streets (Ciro is lucky they didn’t catch him). The movie doesn’t lose steam until we leave the vehicle in order to resolve the plot. As long as we’re confined to a small space (relatively speaking; those SUVs are pretty roomy) we’re caught in the thrill of Ciro’s struggle for survival.
B (1 hr., 30 min.; Spanish with subtitles; )