An identity crisis is at the heart of Everybody Has a Plan—but it’s the film’s. Even Viggo Mortensen’s movingly enigmatic performance as identical twins can’t help first-time Argentinean director Ana Piterbarg decide whether she is making an existential tone poem or a brutish thriller. Set mainly in the scarifying, swampy area of the Tigre Delta, Piterbarg’s film opens in nearby Buenos Aires where Agustín (Mortensen) is a pediatrician in the process of shutting down from his successful life. The source of his despair is never revealed, even to his wife (Soledad Villamil), though the torment behind his eyes is utterly convincing. His evil twin, Pedro, shows up, deathly ill, and with a scene as grisly as any on Breaking Bad, Agustín gets to disappear, via a lookalike corpse. Returning to the Tigre, where he and his brother grew up, the tailored doctor puts on Pedro’s scruffy shoes, adopts Pedro’s crime-hiding identity of beekeeping, and hopes to fool the locals. But the subsequent action, a confusing frenzy of betrayals and red herrings, never rises to the level of noir. A couple great close-ups—”Pedro’s” cunning look as he hides an untanned ring finger, or the strangely frightening shots of the bees—serve to tease. At one point, a narrative voice asks, “When the hive doesn’t work, they say you have to change the queen. But what about us, the workers?” Like too much of the film, the query just hangs out there.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 22, 2013