Irrespective of the fact that Rosarigasinos is made in Argentina, it is very much a Japanese gangster movie, so much so that the plot could have been lifted from pretty much of anything that Kinji Fukasaku directed in the late 1960's early 1970s as part of the Yakuza bloom.
There are a few subtle differences in this film, aside from everyone being Argentinian and not Japanese, is that we get two protagonists emerging from a long prison stint instead of one.
Alberto "Tito" Salvaria (Federico Lupi) and his friend or, well, of at least as long as he was in prison, Castor (Ulises Dumont) have emerged into rural Argentine society after a 30 year stint in the clink (15 for the gang, and 15 for cutting off Pinza Gomez's junk while imprisoned – ouch). Helping to keep their spirits high in the face of their term, was the knowledge that they'd hidden a nice next egg for their eventual release, 3 meters down, off the old dock, down by the river.
And, as with all things that have a 30 year gap like that, the rest of the gang to which they were affiliated has absconded with the money leaving them penniless and gangless save for the limited friendship of their old pal Fatso. See, aside from taking Tito and Castor's abuse at revealing that everyone in town knew that they'd buried a pittance, he has an armored car robbery planned and Tito and Castor are just the guys to help pull it off.
The problem is that Tito knows that Fatso has no money, no clout, and no reason to remain helpful other than fear that Tito will start to talk to the cops about the good old days, the same good old days that he and Castor did time to pay for.
Tito and Castor are more than friends, they are also a tango singing duo. Tito is the singer, while Castor plays accordion. They are very, very good at it, or were. After making a deal with Fatso to help with his armored car scheme they get hooked up with a little café owner who remembers them when they were known only as Rosario singers and not convicts.
For all other descriptions, Rosarigasinos follows the established Yakuza flick plot pretty much right down to the hookers, club owners, and plans for revenge. And it sets up to end the same way too, with multiple double crosses, some redemption, and a whole lot of bloodshed as the last act of a very old play gets to finally have its moment on the stage.
Like the better Japanese films that tread these waters, Rosarigasinos lives or dies on the charisma of its leading man or men, in this case Tito and Castor are absolutely note perfect on their roles as anachronisms turned loose with a score to settle and little if any trust left.
Once the armored car robbery goes to shit because Tito spies his long-ago love Morocha (Maria Jose Demare), a girl who's come back to town just to find him, and Castor is in the merciless hands of the police, the film slips into the final act. The climax of the tango, as it were. And like most blues songs, Tango's usually end badly for all involved.
Music is used as a consistent metaphor in the film, from the lovely bluesy Tangos to their themes of men driven to crimes of passion, and women so beautiful they make men happily screw over their best friends, and the film has the same beat structure as a tango. The middle languid passages spell out all the details of the past, explain the loves and the losses and put the beginning and ending of the song into perspective.
This is a masterfully crafted crime film that doesn't really bother to be a crime film. It reminds me too of the old Kirk Douglas/Burt Lancaster 80s film Tough Guys where the robbery of the train at the end was significant only in that it was a metaphor for how old the main characters were and how far the world had moved while they were in prison.
What shined through in that film, and what shines through here, is the closeness of Tito and Castor, their early flirtation with disregarding the others' trust set up the climax where the two, driven apart by a woman, revelations, and circumstance, meet their fate together the same way they always have.
Director Rodrigo Grande does not have an extensive film resume, a couple of features before this, and like Rosarigasinos, written by him doesn't bother with ornate camera sets, or heady set imagery. Like the Kinji Fukasaku yakuza films, it's stark, there aren't many other people almost no one but the film's main characters lives in this world, and yet he gets such vibrant and fun performances out of them it's hard not to just want Tito and Castor to succeed.
But success? That's not the making's of a blues song, is it?
Synapse Films brings Rosarigasinos to you in 16:9 widescreen with English subs. The film is in presented in original Spanish.