Sebastián Borensztein’s Heroic Losers (La Odisea de los Giles) is a hilarious heist comedy drama that shows you the best of Argentinian values.
Heroic Losers (La Odisea de los Giles) is one of those films that grip you from the very start and keep on surprising you until the end. It’s also one of those movies that, quite simply, have it all: a fascinating premise, unexpected twists, a story that flows effortlessly and that is made even more compelling by the universal themes it approaches. The story of Sebastián Borensztein (Chinese Take-Out)’s heist comedy drama begins in 2001, in a small Argentinian town called Alsina, with a group of friends trying to join forces to set up an agricultural cooperative. Heroic Losers‘s original title is La Odisea the los Giles, and this odyssey’s “giles” – which, in Spanish, means “fools” – are people who happened to come up with a good idea at the most unfortunate time. Led by retired football player Fermín Perlassi (Ricardo Darín), they manage to put together all their savings and deposit them in the bank, and it’s precisely in that moment that the whole country’s economy collapses, the banking system falls apart and all the money disappears.
But that’s not all. The economic crisis is not the only factor that made our “giles” lose all their money, as they soon discover that, before the collapse, a ruthless lawyer with the ironic name of Fortunato (“Lucky”) Manzi (Andrés Parra) had already withdrawn every single dollar available at the bank, aware of what was about to happen to the country. Which puts our heroes in a very unique position indeed – that of having someone to blame, at least partially, for a tragedy that turned a whole country upside down. With the new, Robin Hood-esque mission of getting back what rightfully belongs to them, they join forces to plan the perfect heist, Danny Ocean style.
As it turns out, this story’s “fools” are not fools at all, and that’s what makes Heroic Losers resonate so well with audiences, no matter whether or not they witnessed the Argentinian crisis firsthand. The protagonists of Borensztein’s comedy drama are everyday men and women. They are honest, working class people who were victims of a crisis that is still very much present in Argentina’s collective memory – the memory of all those people who could not do anything but watch their dreams fade into nothing overnight. Unlike the rest of the country, the heroes of this much needed drama have a way to get back some of the hope they lost, and they do it in the most hilarious, ingenious, rebellious and, most of all, human way possible.
It takes Perlassi’s
Eleven Nine a while to plan the perfect heist, and they do it by sticking together, in a narrative that allows for an equal mixture of laugh out loud moments, endearing scenes and absolutely nerve-wracking, thriller-worthy sequences. There’s irony, there’s conflict, there are quotable lines and there’s a great deal of heart in this clever comedy drama, whose quality can be perceived in every single aspect of its production. Secret in Their Eyes writer Eduardo Sacheri brings equal doses of emotion and charm to the script, while Ricardo Darín, Luis Brandoni, Chino Darín, Rita Cortese and the rest of the cast work their magic on their characters, who are as likeable and relatable as they are heartwarming and wonderfully flawed.
The quality of the script matches that of the cinematography, with eye-pleasing colours that turn night-time scenes into vivid paintings, infusing poetry into everyday objects like tractors, toys, memorabilia and electrical tools. The Spanish rock/blues tracks in the soundtrack will make you want to dance and sing along, and the aptly chosen classical music infuses some seriously epic scenes with the right dose of solemnity and coolness. Most of all, it’s the very best of Argentinian values that comes to the surface in Heroic Losers, between a well-timed “mate” and the other, and it comes in the form of that special kind of strength that comes from learning to get up every time you fall.
Heroic Losers redefines the very idea of what a “fool” is supposed to be like, and it does so in an engaging, thought-provoking, incredibly entertaining way while also providing plenty of meaningful moments. It will make you smile, it will make you laugh, it will keep you on the edge of your seat and it will make you fall in love with its incredibly likeable, human protagonists, while bringing a much needed dose of Argentinian spirit to your life.
Heroic Losers premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival on 29th February 2020.