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Award-winning and Popular, “The Broken Glass Theory” is Fun, Pero no Mucho

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Where does the inspiration for a movie come from? It can come from the life of the filmmaker or screenwriter, from a story, from a song, and even from the news. It was a wave of arson in a city on the border between Brazil and Uruguay in 2010 that inspired Diego Parker Fernández to make The Broken Glass Theory, a film that, despite its flaws, has been gaining a lot of public affection.

Claudio Tapia (Martín Slipak) is an expert at Santa Marta insurance company. After achieving great success on a case, he wins a promotion and takes the job of a colleague who is retiring. The new position requires him to travel to a small town in the countryside of Uruguay, a place that is far less peaceful than it used to be. In the days before Tapia’s arrival, curious crimes occur: cars are set on fire in the middle of the night. Upon assuming his new position, Tapia has to decide whether the insurance company will cover the damage to the cars, as well as find out who is, or rather, who are the arsonists.

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In addition to work obligations, Tapia is facing a small crisis in his marriage to Lucia (Josefina Trias), and the distance imposed between the two by his new job is another ingredient to make this crisis worse. Tapia’s marital situation takes a back seat throughout the film, and could have taken up more space in the narrative.

The various characters are interesting types, but none of them is developed to the satisfaction, that is, we know almost nothing about their trajectories and the motivations for their actions. There’s also virtually no mystery – although a song in the middle of the film says otherwise – because we already know, even before we’re introduced to Tapia, who is responsible for the fires.

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The Broken Glass Theory won two awards at the Gramado Festival in 2021, for Best Foreign Film and Best Film by the popular jury, in the categories in which Latin American films made by our brothers from the Southern Cone participate. But the film was not only successful for the bands here: it was also selected for festivals in the USA and chosen by Uruguay as its representative at the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

A Theory of Broken Glass is a Brazil-Argentina-Uruguay co-production, and this Latin cultural mix is – present both in front of and behind the camera. Directed and written by Uruguayans, edited by a Brazilian, starring an Argentine, the film does not lack, as could happen, an identity, even though there is a very brief identification that the story takes place in Uruguay. Yes, it could be set in Argentina or Brazil, or even in another country, because The Broken Glass Theory that gives the film its name actually exists and has been scientifically proven: it points out that a small crime can turn into a big crime. Quickly and, as Tapia will discover, impunity encourages people, no matter who they are, to continue the wave of violence.

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Charming, if rushed, fun, despite the flat characters: The Broken Glass Theory is not a great film, and it pales next to other recent Latin American productions – such as the highly praised El Agente Topo. It is, however, worth seeing – there are only 82 minutes of scattered laughter –, if only to encourage the joint film production of the countries involved.

The Broken Glass Theory

The Broken Glass Theory
5 10 0 1
Rating: Neutral – 5 out of 10 stars
Rating: Neutral – 5 out of 10 stars
Total Score iNeutral
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