[Sundance Review] To Kill a Man (Matar a un hombre)

[Ruby Hornet will be at Sundance Film Festival 2014 providing coverage of the festival’s 30th year. Keep it tuned to Ruby Hornet this week as we share reviews, interviews, photos, and more at one of the country’s largest film festivals.]

To Kill a Man (Matar a un hombre)
Director: Alejandro Fernandez Almendras
Rating: N/A
Release Date: January 17, 2014

How far would you go to protect your family? With our backs to the wall and facing a large threat, I’d imagine the answer would be, “Whatever it takes.” However, not everybody can truly be prepared for the ramifications of their actions, even if it’s in the name of safety and protection. In Alejandro Fernandez Almendras’ To Kill a Man, an unassuming, middle-class husband and father of two is prodded and pushed to the brink until he takes matters into his own hands. However, the consequences of his actions are too much for him to bear for long.

Jorge (Daniel Candia) is a passive man who falls victim to bullying from some neighborhood scumbags led by one man, Kalule. When Jorge’s son, Jorgito, decides to defend his father, things escalate when Kalule shoots him, then shoots himself to stage an act of defense. However, Kalule is sent to prison for a small period of time; upon his return, tensions escalate as he stalks and threatens the entire family until Jorge simply takes matters into his own hands.

To Kill a Man

To Kill a Man is a character study analyzing the effects a murder can have on a man. One of the most prevailing themes found in the film is the idea of masculinity and gender. Early in the film, Jorge’s masculinity is ridiculed and taunted by the neighborhood scoundrels. His passive manner isn’t exactly the most masculine, especially in Latino cultures. Even at his breaking point, Jorge isn’t a hyper-masculine being; rather, he’s still unconfident and unsure of his actions, even after the line is crossed.

As with most character studies, To Kill a Man is a quiet, slow-moving film. Because of this, there’s a tendency for the film to plod and move too slowly at times. There may not be enough driving action to keep certain audiences engaged. However, those that do hang on will enjoy Jorge’s journey and Almendras’ exploration into the mind of a man desperate to do right by his family.

Geoff Henao

Geoff Henao is a writer/kinda photographer affiliated with the Chicago collective LOD. His interests include film, punk rock, cute girls, graphic novels, video games, and the Chicago Bulls. He's funny sometimes.

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