Glasgow Film Festival ’19: Rojo

We have all had those moments where a stranger is rude to us right out of the blue. They shove past us or cut ahead or say something venomous in our direction, totally without provocation. They are pissed about something else, but they are going to make it our problem. These moments tend to be so quick and unexpected that we’re left tongue-tied, unable to process the sudden, ugly interruption into our lives quick enough. Maybe we meekly say nothing, or maybe we explode back at them on pure reflex but can’t get our words together well enough and end up just sort of spurting angry syllables at them. Neither is very satisfying, and we’ll likely spend the next few hours, if not days, returning to that moment, re-writing our lines. What we would have said. What we should have said.

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Rojo opens on that rare moment where a person immediately has exactly the right words at their disposal. Claudio (Dario Grandinetti) is a highly successful and respected lawyer, waiting for his wife in a small, busy restaurant. As he waits, the man standing next to him (Diego Cremonesi), who is waiting for a table to free up, becomes increasingly irate. Perhaps because he is closest, perhaps because he is alone, perhaps because he has the neatly-dressed, quiet demeanour of a man who can be dominated by brute force — whatever the reason, the stranger makes Claudio the target of his rage. After a brief exchange, Claudio politely acquiesces, picking up his coat and rising from his seat. He walks a few feet away before calmly turning round and delivering an eloquent, pointed speech which condemns the stranger’s behaviour as that of a deeply unhappy man, more to be pitied than hated.

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