Heroic Losers Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Argentina, August 2001. Several old friends from the small town of Alsina decide to open an agricultural cooperative. The idea belongs to Fermin Perlassi (Ricardo Darin) and his wife Lidia (Veronica Llanas), and they shared the idea with an old friend Antonio Fontana (Luis Brandoni). At first, he does not really understand what the essence of the idea is – Fermin and Lydia offer to buy land and a warehouse from a long-ruined resident of this town – but Fermin explains that in this way they will be able to give work to thirty local residents, and this is important for everyone: the country is in a protracted economic crisis, unemployment has reached dangerous levels.

Antonio agrees to take part in all this, they put all their savings into the business, they also involve their friends and acquaintances in financing, each of whom contributed as many thousands of dollars as they could. In addition, a large amount – one hundred thousand dollars – was given by the local owner of the transport company Carmen Larchio (Rita Cortese): firstly, she knows Fermin very well and completely trusts him, and secondly, she hopes that Fermin will work in the cooperative will attract her slacker son, whose name is Hernan (Marco Antonio Caponi).

Everyone in the town knows Fermin, he can be said to be a local celebrity: thirty years ago, Perlassi played in the first division for a small football club in Buenos Aires and scored a goal in the last minute in an away match! In memory of this amazing event, a monument was erected to him in Alsina.

Together with Carmen’s money, they collected $158,000 and put it in a safe deposit box. Fermin intends to take the hundred thousand missing for the redemption of the plot with buildings on credit from the bank.

The bank manager, whom Fermin has known for a long time, says that there is clearly not enough money in Fermin’s account to receive such a large loan, and advises him to immediately deposit the collected funds into the account – they say, then the Central Bank will immediately approve the loan and the money will be deposited in the very next few days . This all sounds reasonable enough, and Fermin deposits the money into the account.

However, exactly the next day, a technical default occurs in Argentina: all dollar savings of the population are forcibly converted into pesos at a rate three times lower than the real market rate, and the country announced that no more than 250 pesos can be withdrawn from citizens’ bank accounts per week. For Fermin and his friends, this means a complete disaster.

After a while, they learn that the cunning lawyer Fortunato Mansi (Andres Parra) entered into a criminal conspiracy with his friend, the manager of this bank: on the last day before the default, the bank approved a large loan in pesos for him, and he immediately exchanged this loan for cash dollars bank customers (including the dollars of Fermin and friends).

And then they decide to return their money by robbing Mansi: they understand that he cannot store this money in the bank, which means that they are hidden somewhere.

***

The original title of the painting – La odisea de los giles – I would translate as “The Odyssey of idiots.” (The term gil is colloquial, used only in Latin America, Spanish dictionaries do not know it at all.) But “Heroic losers” is also, in general, quite suitable (in fact, this is an exact translation of the English title). The film was released worldwide in August last year, it is planned to be shown in United States in September 2020.

By genre, this is precisely a tragicomedy: the film has both tragic and frankly comical moments.

In the scene where Fermin, persuading Antonio to join them in creating a cooperative, says “Now is the best time, because it cannot get any worse, and what else can happen to us”, the inscription “August 2001” appears, which for Argentines immediately explains – they remember this time very well. It’s like in a United Statesn film, in the words “Now is the best time, because it can’t be worse, the dollar exchange rate is already six rubles” include the inscription “August 1998”. In fact, something similar happened in Argentina in 2001 – a technical default.

The main plot core of the picture is Fermin’s group with friends, planning to carry out a robbery of a vile lawyer in order to return their own money. Their goals, in general, are quite noble, while they use illegal means, but without serious crime: they are simple hard workers, not too smart and not too cunning (Fermin calls himself and the company that – Los Giles, idiots), but one head is good, but ten is better: it is ten people who are going to get even with Mansi, and among them is the son of Fermin and Lydia Rodrigo (Chino Darin). As a result, each of the participants comes up with and helps to implement some part of the plan.

I liked the movie. It seems to be nothing special, but here the scam is well thought out and looks more or less realistic, there is a funny line with Rodrigo, who was sent to Muncie’s lawyer’s house to pretend to be a gardener so that Rodrigo could warn accomplices when the lawyer is about to visit his secret vault, at Rodrigo’s while carrying out a responsible assignment, an affair will arise with the secretary of the lawyer Florencia (Eileen Zaninovich), lawyer Mansi, who will feel that someone is slowly getting to his modest stash, it will be fun to hysteria – in general, life goes on.

In addition, among the heroic losers there are several very colorful characters: first of all, Fermin himself, who created all this movement, his friend Antonio, faithful to the bright ideas of Prince Kropotkin, two cool Elladio brothers – Jose and Gomez (“To create a cooperative,” says Fermin, we need hard-working, honest and smart people. Therefore, we will go to the Elladio brothers, who at least meet the first two conditions”), the best mechanic of the city of Rolo Belaunde, who constantly argues with Antonio on political topics, well, the same businesswoman Carmen, who, of course, he wants to protect his investments.

They amusingly discuss how they will act, they act somewhat messy (but, I note, without obvious buffoonery: they are just not robbers, but ordinary hard workers), and in the process all sorts of unexpected situations arise that they try to cope with.

It was quite interesting for me and Bublik to watch all this, we were worried about Fermin’s group and hoped that they would still punish the vile lawyer Mansi, who had such a nasty black mustache. But the very format of the story being told did not imply that evil would not be punished (after all, this is something like such a good fairy tale), so the lawyer will have to significantly expand his practice in order to cover the losses.

The acting work is good. There is nothing outstanding there, of course, but it is played soundly and somehow sincerely. And Veronica Llanas, who played Lydia, is especially good there – she just really liked it.

And I’ll also separately note the musical accompaniment: the music is really well chosen, it really attracts attention.

This is such a movie. I like to watch Spanish and Argentine films from time to time. Firstly, their cinematography is original and well developed, and secondly, in their films you take a break from American cinematic fast food: after all, this is a completely different movie.

Now the question is whether this film is generally in United Statesn translation. Despite the fact that it has not yet been released on screens and, of course, was not released under a license, the picture can be found with United Statesn voice over (as well as with Spanish and English subtitles) here and here (I would not write a review if it were not for no option to watch it in United Statesn). Moreover, I can’t digest voiceovers for a long time, but here I listened to a rather large piece – and you know, it’s quite decent: both the original voices are heard, and the translator’s voice is normally heard (voiceovers often have distortions in one direction or another), and the translation itself – quite adequate, for which thanks to the author.

PS By the way, among the producers of this film, several people participated in the creation of the Argentine-Spanish film “Wild Tales”, and Ricardo Darin played a demolition engineer there in one of the short stories.

 

Heroic losers movie meaning / La odisea de los giles

Director: Sebastian Borenstein Cast: Ricardo Darin, Luis Brandoni, Veronica Llanas, Daniel Araos, Herman Rodriguez, Alejandro Ghigena, Guillermo Jakubovic, Ramiro Vaio, Marta Piatigorsky, Carlos Jorge Pinheiro, Rita Cortese, Marco Antonio Caponi, Carlos Belloso, Andrés Parra , Chino Darin, Eileen Zaninovich

Worldwide gross: $7 million
Tragicomedy, Argentina-Spain, 2019, 116 min.

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