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4.0 out of 5 stars
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 4 November 2013
This is the latest from acclaimed Argentinean director Pablo Traper (`Carancho', and `Lion's Den') and he has teamed up with Ricardo Darin again who starred in `Carancho' but has graced some classics. This is about the work the Catholic Church does in deprived areas. Set in the slums of Buenos Aires in a place known as `Villa Virgin'; where they have been trying to build a community hospital since 1937.

Father Julian (Darin) is working with his long time friend father Nicolas (Jeremie Renier -`The kid with a bike', `My Way' and `In Bruges'); they are helped by volunteers one of which is an atheist social worker in it for socialist reasons. They have to deal with the drug gangs and turf wars, a police force that is as violent as the gangs and grinding poverty. We also have questions of faith and Sainthood and the inevitability that action for change will always lead to conflict.

This is one of those films that unashamedly pulls on your heart strings, and it certainly got mine. The musical score is excellent as well as is the soundtrack. All of the acting is par excellence and it is obvious that for some of the cast they had never been in front of a camera before. Darin is a tour de force as always but Jeremie Renier has genuine on screen chemistry with Martina Gusman playing the social worker Luciana (she too was in `Carancho'and `Lion's Den'). The issues it tackles it does so in a grown up way but as I said it is very hard to remain detached when you see what is taking place. This is in Spanish with a touch of French all translated well and runs for 105 minutes and I was left very moved by the end and can only recommend thoroughly.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 11 August 2013
White Elephant is a very impressive film about a slum in Buenos Aires where tensions between gangs constantly threaten to erupt. Into this massive community, situated around and in the part-built hospital called the White Elephant, we follow two priests in their daily work, trying to help the communities and negotiating with building contractors and politicians. Played by Ricardo Darin and Jeremie Renier, they act as a superb centre to a film about life and the spirit, and about lives spent in the service of others, with their crises of faith and self-doubt, and more earthly temptations also in the form of a rather beautiful social worker. I have a particular liking for Renier and this role has all the emotional intensity that has become his hallmark - there is surely no better actor currently working in films anywhere. Their discussions with youth groups make for lively viewing, while the Church is not presented in a whitewashed way, but rather as taking a questionable line at times. Conflicts with the police are also quite a persistent theme, and it is occasionally hard to watch. Inspired by the life of a real-life priest, the film has a lot of visual interest and is altogether a noble statement from director Pablo Trapero. Playing a bit like a cross between La Haine (but less hip) and Of Gods And Men (with more action and panache), it strikes me as one of the most memorable pieces of world cinema of recent years.
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on 8 March 2014
The main story - the work of the priest in this huge slum building in Buenos Aires - was fascinating and very well told. I could have done without the love interest involving two of the other characters, which I felt distracted from the rest of the film.
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on 16 January 2015
I thoroughly enjoyed this thought provoking film. It challenges the current view of the Catholic Church and reminds us of the great work they do around the work. It also highlights the extreme corruption in South America and much of the developing world. All the main actors bring something different to the story-line. I would encourage anyone to watch this film.
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on 3 April 2014
Bleak tale delivered with some great acting and cinematography. Held our interest to the end, but, we then asked ourselves whether it had been worth it? We were not moved by the plight of the low-lifes, or the self-centered attitudes of the priests involved.
I'm confident many will find the film involving, but, corporate superstition, corrupt politicians and grinding poverty fail to engage us.
As a piece of film making it is superb but for us it was just not worth the effort.
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on 21 August 2015
A very thought provoking film which appeared to be about the struggles of people living in the slums of Latin America. As it draws to a close it changes entirely to one of the two priests.
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on 12 January 2014
I found this hard to watch as it is very disturbing film. Another with the excellent Ricardo Darin. Try it!
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on 31 March 2014
Very well acted, very credible story, or how humans can make life of other humans unbearable... a movie with a true message !
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on 18 May 2015
You have to know the history of This kind of living in Argentina to understand the movie. A little slow
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on 29 September 2014
it was a real white elephant and just seemed to be going nowhere, we were so bored we fell asleep!
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