Starring: Imanol Arias, Dario Grandinetti, Luis Luque
Director: Lucas Figueroa
Running Time: 90 mins
Dismissal (Despido procedente) is an Argentinian/Spanish film about a business executive from Spain living in Argentina who sees his life take a dark turn after he finds himself being stalked by a man to whom he accidentally told false directions.
Although I can’t say that it’s a hilarious romp as it often wants to be, Dismissal is an entertaining watch throughout, with an enjoyably ridiculous story that brings in some darker intrigue to make things a little more engaging. With that said, despite two strong lead performances that do well to emphasise the main characters’ bizarre relationship, the film just doesn’t go dark enough to really impress, instead settling with a more predictable and simplistic approach that felt really rather underwhelming.
Let’s start with the positives, though, the biggest of which is the fact that Dismissal is, for want of a better word, a fun watch. While it doesn’t quite have the comedic ingenuity or narrative originality to really impress, it has an enjoyably manic energy and gleefully strange atmosphere that certainly makes it an enjoyable watch.
As a result, from its North By Northwest-esque opening scene onwards, the bizarre chain of events that unfold from a seemingly innocent and inconsequential encounter makes for entertaining viewing, as Dario Grandinetti’s character starts going to ridiculous lengths in order to exact revenge on the man who told him the wrong direction, and in doing so cost him a big payday.
That’s where the best entertainment comes from in this movie, the more ridiculous yet equally strange and even unsettling first act, where Grandinetti’s motives for his stalker behaviour are both ambiguous and really rather weird, leaving you to fully identify with Imanol Arias as he struggles to comprehend the bizarre turn his life has suddenly taken.
Grandinetti and Arias do a great job in the two lead roles, and although their characters may not have the depth or genuine intrigue to make the film a properly engrossing watch, they both capture that strangely manic atmosphere the film brings about so well from the start, playing into its playfully dark atmosphere that works well at first, although falls off the cliff later on in the movie.
And that’s what disappointed me most about Dismissal. With a striking and equally entertaining opening act, it really misses the mark when it comes to taking a darker and more intriguing direction, all the while keeping the comedic side of things up. Instead, the movie devolves into rather farcical territory, and all of that manic ambiguity of the first act is lost once we come to know what’s really going on with Grandinetti’s character and everything that surrounds him.
As a result, the film loses its gleefully bizarre fun factor rather quickly, and slogs to the finish with an annoyingly predictable and simplistic plot that just doesn’t provide either the entertainment or intrigue that the premise appeared to set up early on, and that’s why I’m giving Dismissal a 7.0 overall.