Released January 22, 1999
Often young filmmakers use a lot of guesswork to prepare scripts and characters and when viewing the finished product, the audience says, "Ah, the work of a young filmmaker." Quite the opposite is true of twenty-nine-year-old writer/director Beto Brant, who just last year dazzled international audiences with his assured and riveting first feature, Belly Up. Now Brant brings us Friendly Fire, a thrilling and equally complex work in which techniques apprenticed in his previous film -- particularly flashbacks to build character and camaraderie under the duress of violence -- are displayed with the confidence of a seasoned auteur. The time is now, or is it? Four middle-aged men are rounded up by ringleader and newly elected politico Miguel to go fishing in the country. Seemingly bourgeois, well groomed and educated, the men are in high spirits until Miguel reveals his true motivation -- the identification of and revenge upon a capitano who tortured them all after a thwarted bank robbery. From here on, the film divides itself between past and present: days of revolution in the early 1970s and a weekend of coming to terms with horrifying memories thirty years later. The four ex-revolutionaries have maintained successful lives, yet all have been emotionally stunted by this trauma. The scene in which the men finally come face-to-face with their nemesis is brilliantly shot and paced: Brant wisely chooses a gruesome, timeless activity - a cockfight - to foreshadow past and future as the men confront shattered dreams and the futility of a violent future."