At the End of the Tunnel

No time for claustrophobia... At the End of the Tunnel
No time for claustrophobia... At the End of the Tunnel

Spanish title: Al final del túnel
Country: Spain (60%) | Argentina (40%)
2016
Genre: Thriller
Director: Rodrigo Grande
Produced by Mariela Besuievsky, Jimena Blanco, Julia Di Veroli, Pablo Echarri, Gerardo Herrero, Axel Kuschevatzky, Javier López Blanco, Sofía Toro Pollicino, Vanessa Ragone, Martín Seefeld for Haddock Films, Hernández y Fernández Producciones Cinematográficas, Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales (INCAA), Instituto de Crédito Oficial (ICO), Instituto de la Cinematografía y de las Artes Audiovisuales (ICAA), Mistery Producciones Cinematográficas AIE, Movistar+, Natixis Coficiné, Programa Ibermedia, Televisión Española (TVE), Televisión Federal (Telefe), Tornasol Films, Árbol Contenidos
Story and screenplay: Rodrigo Grande
Music: Lucio Godoy, Federico Jusid
Cinematographer: Félix Monti
Editor: Leire Alonso, Manuel Bauer, Irene Blecua
Art director: Mariela Rípodas
Cast: Leonardo Sbaraglia (Joaquín), Pablo Echarri (Galereto), Clara Lago (Berta), Federico Luppi (Guttman), Uma Salduende (Betty), Walter Donado (Canario), Laura Faienza (René), Facundo Nahuel Giménez (Schwarzenegger), Javier Godino (Zurdo), Ariel Nuñez Di Croce (Muñeco), Cristóbal Pinto (Pichi), Sergio Ferreiro (Cristiani), Daniel Morales Comini (Cervantes), Juan Carlos Nozzi (Policía 1), Sergio López Santana (Policía 2), Néstor Castro (Policía Civil), Guillermo Jacubowicz (Bombero 1), Luciano Conti (Bombero 2), Noemí Contreras (Mujer Guttman), Luz Giménez (Doble de Betty), David Rodriguez (Doble de Joaquín), Aníbal Pérez (Doble de El Zurdo), Ariadna A. Pérez Coronel (Doble de Betty)
Spanish takings: €677.034,16
Spanish spectators: 109.790
Spanish subsidies: 46.475,00 €
Budget:€2,000,000 (estimated)

Synopsis

Joaquín (Leonardo Sbaraglia) spends his days in a large townhouse, brooding over the death of his wife and daughter in the same accident which paralyzed him and consigned him to a wheelchair. Beset by money problems, he rents out the top floor to Berta (Clara Lago), a nightclub dancer, and her mute daughter. Despite his general grumpiness he starts warming towards them, but then he becomes preoccupied with the strange noises he hears from next door while working in his basement. Using a series of homemade surveillance devices he discovers that a gang of bank robbers led by the violent Galereto (Pablo Echarri) are digging a tunnel to the vault of a nearby bank which passes right underneath his house. Rather than reporting it to the police he decides to take advantage of the situation and steal from the robbers themselves, thereby solving all his financial woes. It’s a dangerous game, though, and one in which not all the players are who they seem…

Review

At the End of the Tunnel
At the End of the Tunnel

We’ve been championing Spanish (or Spanish language) thrillers for some time and At the End of the Tunnel (2016) is another efficient entry in the tradition. Filmed in Argentina and Spain by Argentine director Rodrigo Grande, who garnered a small reputation for himself with the well received 2001 comedy crime film Gangs from Rosario, it was made for a reputed €2 million – a fraction of even a low budget Hollywood movie – but looks superb and authentically cinematic.

The plot doesn’t quite have the same number of clever twists and turns as the best examples of the genre (The Body, The Hidden Face), but it’s not far off. Lasting a good two hours, this is a fast-paced and involving affair that maintains the interest throughout. It has the familiar sense of nonchalant style and visual flair that marks a lot of Hispanic cinema, with cool cinematography, sharp editing and effective art direction (almost all of it is set in either Joaquín’s villa or the tunnels beneath). In common with many of the better Spanish thrillers, the plot adds a new twist to a familiar idea and develops it in unexpected ways while making sure to keep the protagonist ambiguous: Joaquín seems to have a certain criminal savvy – in the way he can rustle up useful audio visual devices, his knowledge of explosives and ability to pick safety deposit boxes – that implies that his background is far from legitimate, but this is never stated explicitly.

On the downside, this is one of those films where it feels like there are an awful lot of coincidences and at times the script does feel just a bit too mechanical. Certain aspects of the plot simply don’t add up: if the criminals need to blow a hole in the floor of the bank, for instance, how can Joaquín simply dig his way in? But this aside it’s an assured production, well made, clever and with good performances from the likes of Sbaraglia (King of the Mountain) and Echarri.

Rating: 8/10

Review by Matt Blake, 2017

What the critics said

“With influences ranging from Rififi to The Great Escape, the film lays no claim to inventing the genre, yet Grande’s script is fun, his characters intriguing, and his buildup expertly paced.” Jay Weissberg, Variety.

“Featuring a fine turn from a wheelchair-bound Leonardo Sbaraglia and a satisfyingly twisting tunnel of a story, At the End of the Tunnel, Argentinian Rodrigo Grande’s follow-up to his award-winning A Matter of Principle, is skillfully handled suspense fare. Despite a few zig-zags too many and a couple of stylistic false notes, the movie finally feels as sweaty, claustrophobic and nervous as the title implies, staying on just the right side of excess.” Jonathan Holland, Hollywood Reporter.

Notes and further information

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