The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Everybody Has a Plan | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Everybody Has a Plan

A doctor assumes the role of his dead twin to escape his marriage.

Directed by: Ana Piterbarg
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Sofia Gala, Soledad Villamil, Daniel Fanego, Javier Godino

Buenos Aires doctor, Augustin (Mortensen), has grown tired of his middle class existence in the city. When his wife, Claudia (Villamil), pressures him into adopting a child, he confesses a wish to leave the relationship, locking himself in his study for days until Claudia eventually leaves their apartment, putting it up for sale. Augustin's identical twin brother, Pedro (Mortensen in a dual role), arrives in the city from his home in rural Argentina to inform his estranged brother he is suffering from terminal cancer. Pedro wishes Augustin to euthanize him, something which the doctor refuses at first, but realizing this is the perfect way to escape his life, Augustin drowns Pedro in his bath, leaving the body there for all to assume it as his. Now adopting his twin's identity, Pedro leaves for his childhood home but, once there, discovers Pedro is caught up with a dangerous gang of local kidnappers.
'Everybody Has a Plan' is a movie whose protagonist finds himself in an unfamiliar situation, but it's also made by people themselves working in foreign territory. Mortensen, pulling a "Kristin Scott Thomas", gives a performance entirely in his second language, Spanish. Piterbarg is a female writer-director making a movie about emasculation, both literally and figuratively (The impotent Augustin embraces his macho twin's tough lifestyle). The plot feels like a combination of Antonioni's 'The Passenger' and Hitchcock's 'Strangers on a Train', with the existentialism of the former struggling to share a bed with the thrills of the latter, resulting in a film that can't decide whether it's a crime thriller or a meditation on masculinity.
Neither element is explored to a satisfactory degree, with little in the way of either plotting or character development. Augustin's motivations are sign-posted through a quick scene where some noisy toddlers get on his nerves. (Sure, kids can give you a headache but it hardly seems enough motivation for committing fratricide and changing your entire identity.) For a movie written and directed by a woman, its female characters are given particularly short shrift. The subplot involving Augustin's wife is rendered pointless by her indifference. I rarely condone remakes but this is a case where a more experienced film-maker could likely craft something impressive from this bizarre but thrilling scenario. While ultimately her ego is writing checks her talent can't cash, Pitarbarg has made a film that's an indulging enough watch (thanks mainly to Mortensen and the sleazy charm of Fanego), but one which should be so much more.