December 5, 2021

New Film Review: Thesis on a Homicide

If a thriller depended entirely on its soundtrack, then Thesis on a Homicide would be very thrilling. Unfortunately the music is often the most tense part of the film. Thesis on a Homicide is an Argentinian film directed by Hernan Goldfrid, based on a book by  Diego Paszkowski.  It is positioned as a thriller, with a law professor in Buenos Aires beginning to suspect one of his students as the killer in a local murder case.

The murder occurs very soon into the film, so we are quickly in the realms of the whodunnit. Except that there are no real suspects, and no evidence to sift. The victim is not introduced before their demise and we have no emotional investment in the case. What drives professor Roberto Bermudez on is the sort of circumstantial evidence that you would have thought his job would have taught him to ignore.

The film is richly shot, with night scenes that leech primary colours and atmosphere-building close ups. But it is not the atmosphere of a thriller, more of a well-filmed art house drama.  Renowned Argentinian actor Ricardo Darin – previously seen in the Oscar-winning The Secret in their Eyes – plays the professor as a whisky-loving chain-smoker, something unusual to see in a contemporary film. He makes the character interesting, but his is the only character that is analysed to any great degree.  He conveys the growing paranoia that Bermudez experiences, but even by the end I was unclear how much of this was legitimate and how much was in his head.  The law professor sees the murder as an intellectual game committed by his student, and becomes unable to see it in any other light.

Ultimately Thesis on a Homicide is a good-looking film that rather than thrilling shows the dangers of an idée fixe.


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