Having an identical twin brother must be extremely convenient. Whenever you’re sick of your own life, pull a Freaky Friday and live a day as your bro instead. Or, as in the Spanish-language flick “Everybody Has a Plan,” murder him and assume his identity forever.
Looking hirsute and grizzly, Viggo Mortensen plays estranged twins Augustin and Pedro. Augustin has built a nice, dull professional life for himself in Buenos Aires, but a midlife crisis leaves him hungry for a change. Pedro, conversely, lives as a murderous outlaw in the rural, swampy backwaters of Argentina’s Tigre Delta, where the duo grew up. The latter, whose wracking cough brings up blood, wishes to die. Augustin sees a golden opportunity, pulls a Cain and kills his brother, and moves to the Delta with the totally realistic plan of living out the rest of his life as Pedro.
The impersonation comes with a little problemo: Pedro is notorious in his neck of the swamp for his bad boy dealings. When the community turns against “Pedro,” it’s Augustin who faces real danger, having no idea about the depths of his brother’s role in the underworld.
Mortensen is a magnetic screen star, able to shift with suppleness between the frightening, wounded wolf that is Pedro to the gentle bear that is Augustin. Although Mortensen is fluent in Spanish (who knew?), he chews his terse lines like a cowpoke gnawing on jerky with a characterization more in tune with the brooding bravado of the wild American west.
Soledad Villami plays a young 20-something in love with Pedro, whose hungry May-December desperation shades a girl not as lonely as she looks. Daniel Fanego—as a crime boss in total control of Pedro/Augustin’s fate—effortlessly evokes tension, like a knife pressed up against the jugular; his steely face stays cool as he cuts with his eyes.
The gritty acting transports us deep into the rustic Argentinian swamp, but the story tears us from realism with its narrative contrivances. Writer-director Ana Piterberg has staged a thriller so atmospherically tranquil you could swear the celluloid itself is falling asleep. The whole subdued affair never takes off.
Although Mortensen is easy to empathize with, it’s impossible to root for a character who brazenly murders his brother and gets away with it. Plausibility is stretched because, no matter how difficult his previous life was, impersonating his criminal sibling merely to return to his roots hardly seems worth it. If anything, the film wants to be a drama about the dangers of returning home, not a story of thwarted stolen identity.
Critic’s Score: C
Directed by Ana Piterberg
Casting by Walter Rippel, Camilla Valentine-Isola
Starring Viggo Mortensen, Soledad Villamil, Daniel Fanego