In an abandoned warehouse a half-naked woman is tied to a chair and unbeknownst to her, things are about to get a lot worse. Notorious killers L'Italiano and Pato Lliro have both been hired by the same person to kill this nameless young woman. Neither man likes each other and both disagree about how each other kills their victims and now they must fight it out to see who gets to take the life of the woman.
Good god, how long has Film Bizarro been talking about "Curriculum"? Well, sadly, from the very beginning of the site. Somehow we've managed to review "Dirty Love", "La Creacion" and "Hidden in the Woods". But still no "Curriculum". Not for lack of trying on our part. Inevitably we kind of shrugged the movie off since you can only wait to see something for so long, and try for so long, before you stop caring. That was until I recently found an online shop selling imported copies -- to which I was more surprised by the fact that the movie found its way to DVD -- and I figured it was time to finally watch the movie that I had given up on.
A serial killer by the name of L'Italiano, a name he despises, accepts a contract he is offered to kill some nameless woman. Unfortunately, another killer, Pato Lliro, is also hired for the same job and the two inevitably clash when they confront each other as the two men have issues regarding how the other kills their victims. Being the romantic that he is, L'Italiano views each killing as kind of a dance - there is something special and fantastical about each one. He philosophizes about what he's doing where as Lliro is a thug with a chainsaw - he wants to get in and out while being as brutal as he possibly can. The life of a poor woman is left hanging in the balance as these two psychopaths fight it out over who is the better killer and who will get to finish this job.
Suffice to say, "Curriculum" is a black-comedy rather than the sleazy-exploitive-horror movie that I was expecting so many years ago. I certainly didn't mind that that's what the movie was but what I did mind was that the movie…was really bad. When I was disappointed with Timo Rose's "Barricade" it seemed like it was a result from the build up of expectations. And certainly you would think that would be a similar case with "Curriculum" since we anticipated this movie back when we first opened the doors to Film Bizarro. However, in 6 years that interest had died and it felt like I was only truly watching "Curriculum" for the purpose of closure. To finally see what I had wanted to see for so long.
The problems that I saw with "Curriculum" was that it was very rough, which is expected, but more to the point that it had a lot of ambition but not enough material to support it. I believe this is Patricio's first feature film and as such it is obviously going to be amateurish and rough. A lot of it is going to be the filmmaker trying to find their voice, obviously. And it's easy to see what Patricio wanted to do with "Curriculum" but I think the desire to make a feature and that lack of experience greatly outweighed what he was capable of doing at the time.
The movie is intended to be a black-comedy but unfortunately there isn't much comedy to be had. Perhaps some was lost in translation but there didn't appear to be anything funny occurring. Thanks to a jumbled timeline and a fair amount of cut-aways, there is a complete lack of flow. As anyone who understands comedy will tell you, it's all about timing. In "Curriculum" there is no timing; it jumps at random on its timeline only to cut back to the end results of something that had happened during that time we were away watching a flashback. What was that something? Who knows! Certainly not the viewer since we were busy being pre-occupied with another scene that didn't necessarily have anything to do with what's currently happening.
About the only scenes that could be funny are the exchanges between L'Italiano and Lliro in the beginning but I found the dialogue to be mostly forced. It seemed like there was something there; that Patricio was trying to say something mixed in with the humor of two killers arguing over personal philosophies. What ever it was that he was trying to say was lost within this terrible dialogue. That's where the biggest problem lies with the movie: it was first-film writing. Not completely terrible -- there was some competency behind the movie -- but the dialogue seemed very forced. It wanted to sound deep and important. It's the type of dialogue you would imagine a movie like this would have -- attempting to be clever and philosophical -- without even seeing the movie.
Then, of course, while the DVD I bought was a genuine release of "Curriculum", there ceased to be any subtitles for the last 1/4 of the movie. So there were some details to the story that were lost for me because of that. Not that it would have saved the movie in my eyes nor would it have made an increasingly convoluted movie suddenly make sense.
Anyway, that's sort of how the movie felt overall: forced. Again, it is very easy to see what Patricio was trying to do with "Curriculum" or what kind of movie he wanted to make. Unfortunately the material, or the writing, rather, wasn't where it needed to be. "Curriculum" could have been a great pitch-black comedy but the story and the characters were underwhelming. The story inadvertently fell apart as it progressed as plot twists took it in an unappealing and illogical direction. Then there was the editing in general and the use of title cards to introduce characters -- intended to break up the movie into chapters -- that aided in throwing the pacing off and occasionally adding to the confusion of the movie overall.
Basically, "Curriculum" features a lot of problems you see in first-time movies. I try really hard not to fault a movie or a director when it comes to that because I expect things to be rough and I expect there to be problems. The only downside is that there was nothing that redeemed "Curriculum". There was no saving grace. Not for me, anyhow. And now that I've watched Patricio Valladares' first feature and his most recent, "Hidden in the Woods", I don't think I'll be pursuing his filmography any further because there's not an interest there for me. With that said though, I do admire Patricio as he seems to one of the few Chilean filmmakers who is willing to make harsh and sleazy horror movies in a country that isn't exactly known for that kind of content. And, undoubtedly, he is serving as an inspiration to the future generation of filmakers in Chile.