Angel (Eduardo Noriega) and Nene (Leonardo Sbaraglia) are passionate lover-killers in the Leopold and Loeb mould, joined at the soul, leaving a trail of violently murdered bodies in their glamorous wakes, and having over-romanticised, rhapsodic movies made about their lives. Leopold and Loeb's memories were insulted by the limp Swoon and though Burnt Money (Plata Quemada) is nowhere near as bad as that New Queer Cinema stinker, it makes many of the same errors including an excessive running time and an excessively elliptical narrative which dissolves a really quite vivid storyline into a yawn-inducing marathon of amorphous dream imagery.
Druggy but expert armed robbers, Angel and Nene escape to Uruguay when a hold-up in Argentina goes wrong. This film is apparently based on a true story, but the film's look and pitch doesn't really match the real story's 1965 setting. Waiting for the dust to settle and for their new passports to arrive, Angel and Nene hook up with a hooker called Giselle (Leticia Brédice), but they make a fiery trio and impatience and jelousy soons gets the better of them and their hideout falls apart.
At times beautiful, Burnt Money also benefits from a talented cast. The two leads are charismatic and sexy, and though we only learn about their love for each other via voice-over narrative from an unseen female, there's something really sincere about the way Sbaraglia and Noriega move around each other. The languid pacing and seemingly ever-present fires are simmering sensual but there just isn't any kinetic balance. Even the climactic shoot-out scenes seem to be filtered through an opiate haze - it gets a little frustrating.
I kept waiting for Burnt Money to kick into Bonnie and Clyde mode, but it never did. I don't think such an obvious approach to romantic crime figures necessarily works, and such a moody, oblique style is probably best sustained over a three minute music video clip for an Everything But The Girl single, not a two hour plus film about two Latin men involved in a passionate love relationship conducted on the run from unlucky cops who keep getting their faces shot up. ~~~~~~Review by Mark Adnum
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