The Burning (El Ardor)

Directed by Pablo Fendrik
Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Alice Braga, Claudio Tolcachir, Chico Diaz, Jorge Sesan & Lautaro Vilo
In UK Cinemas June 19th, 2015

by Joanna Orland

An homage to old westerns, this Argentinian film is in dire need of modernization.

The spirit of Sergio Leone and his Spaghetti Western is very much alive in Pablo Fendrik’s El Ardor (The Burning).  Instead of open desert we have dense jungle, but this tale of revenge goes to show how areas of today’s Argentina are as lawless as the Wild West once was.  And while a good point is made, it is hammered home too hard through exhausting scenes that laboriously fade out at each’s end, coupled with an obvious score which attempts to make sure the audience knows exactly how they’re supposed to feel.

Desperately in need of a re-edit, El Ardor does have some good content, beautiful shots and solid acting.  Its main flaw is truly its edit and constant fade-to-blacks which makes the film feel almost like an exercise from the director, rather than a masterful piece of storytelling or art.  In addition to the terrible editing, the sound too is in need of a remix.  The score is used overtly and terribly, and even some of the audio is just badly designed.  This is a shame for a film that does display promise in its beautiful filming and acting.

The story itself is also far from flawless.  A supernatural element had me convinced throughout that Gael Garcia Bernal’s character was actually a jaguar named “Tiger”.  No, turns out he was merely a human (at least physically).  But elements like these seem burdensome to the story rather than intriguing.

Bernal’s character is an unlikely and unwitting action hero who really should have just killed all of the bad guys when he had the chance, as even he must have known that it would have to come to that eventually.  And in fact, he most definitely did know as he greatly discusses the character of his enemy on a number of occasions in this film.  Manning up earlier on would have saved the protagonists a lot of trouble, and the audience a lot of long onerous scenes to sit through.

A re-edit and a new soundtrack could perhaps save El Ardor from burning itself into cinematic oblivion, but as it stands, it is merely a strenuous 101 minutes spent.


Leave a Reply