Outcast superheroes face danger in Greater BA
By Pablo Suarez
Local genre piece Kryptonita mixes sins with redemption in show of craftsmanship
Faithfully adapted from the novel by Argentine writer Leonardo Oyola, Kryptonita is the new film by Nicanor Loreti, whose debut feature, the gory Diablo (2011), a prime work of local horror cinema, was far more than a pleasant surprise in a genre seldom tackled successfully by local filmmakers. And the same could be said of Kryptonita: it’s as much the work of an inspired auteur as it is an accomplished genre piece — even if that might sound contradictory. More precisely, Kryptonita depicts a local urban universe within the mould of a superheroes movie, no less. It’s mainstream, but also art house.
And we’re not talking about your conventional superheroes. Instead, think of a gang of delinquents from La Matanza, Greater BA, who are led by Nafta Súper (Juan Palomino), an atypical superhero who’s nearly fatally injured after an attack, and is then taken to the emergency room of a public hospital where a worn-out, pessimistic doctor (Diego Velázquez) and his nurse (Susana Varela) will have to save his life, no matter what, as ordered by the criminals.
Other members of the gang include transgender wonder-woman Lady Di (Lautaro Delgado), Juan Raro (Carca), Ráfaga (Diego Cremonesi), Faisán (Nico Vázquez), his girlfriend (Sofía Palomino) and El Señor de la Noche (Pablo Rago). And there are, of course, the dirty cops played by Luis Ziembrowski and Diego Capusotto, who want to take down the gang at any cost. As the Doctor tries to save Nafta Súper’s life, through flashbacks we learn some bits and pieces about the past and present of the superhero, as well as about past events where he proved how invincible he is. That is, invincible so far because he may not make it this time.
As Loreti himself acknowledged, Kryptonita has a setting familiar to fans of John Carpenter: a group of characters is locked in a house, a police station, an island, or a building, and are attacked by outside forces who want to destroy them. Echoes of Carpenter’s Assault on Precint 13th abound as well as stylistic flourishes and imagery from the likes of Robert Rodríguez and Quentin Tarantino.
Special credit goes to cinematographer Mariano Suárez, whose camerawork and lighting design create and convey an atmosphere of bleakness. In the flashback sequences, the fast and nervous editing by Loreti and Francisco Freixá alongside the inventive F/X by Andrés Borghi render a very appealing sense of surreal reality. Then there’s the eloquent musical score by Darío Georges, which enhances the ambiance of turmoil, and the art direction by Catalina Oliva and Laura Cacherosky which turns an otherwise ordinary emergency room into an urban shelter.
Unlike Hollywood mega-productions which strive harder and harder to dazzle viewers with sophisticated F/X, Kryptonita smartly utilizes its moderate budget to deliver the most with what’s available and turns visual tricks into a show of craftsmanship. More interesting is the fact that the focus is on the characters and their ordeal in becoming unwanted and unsung heroes. Because the fantastique is the vessel for a story anchored in human bonds and affections — the monologue by Lady Di is frankly moving — in the vein of realism and not without a good dose of social commentary.
Loreti knows better than having a condescending, patronizing view of his outcasts, and he never portrays them as victims of the establishment — although it’s plainly clear that he has an emphatic outlook. And it makes sense, considering they all make up a family with their own codes where honesty and justice prevail above everything else. For treason and cruelty, you have the cops.
So Kryptonita opens up a new path within a genre that still needs much development in Argentina. Just like he did in Diablo, Loreti mixes drama with action, humanity with hostility, and sins with redemption. And it all works to superb effect.
Kryptonita (Argentina, 2015) Directed by Nicanor Loreti. Written by Nicanor Loreti and Camilo De Cabo, based on the novel by Ignacio Oyola. With Diego Velázquez, Juan Palomino, Pablo Rago, Lautaro Delgado, Diego Cremonessi, Diego Capusotto, Luiz Ziembrowski, Sebastián De Caro, Nicolás Vázquez, Carca, Susana Varela, Sofía Palomino, Pablo Pinto. Cinematography: Mariano Suárez. Editing: Nicanor Loreti, Francisco Freixá. Running time: 80 minutes.