Two petty crooks hustle the streets of post-economic crisis Buenos Aires in “Palermo Hollywood,” an excruciatingly derivative underworld tale that falls far short of the high standard set by recent Argentine exports. Preferring flash over substance and providing no real insight into either its characters or the social forces that motivate them, pic is no more than an empty (and overlong) pop concoction in “Mean Streets” clothing. Auds should be scarce for this first feature by musicvid helmer Eduardo Pinto, in Palermo, Hollywood and everywhere else.
From top to bottom, “Palermo Hollywood” is a cliche: The way its protagonists, Pablo (Matias Desiderio) and Mario (Brian Maya), aren’t just partners in crime, but hail from opposite ends of the class spectrum; the way they fall under the influence of a charismatic gangster and his hackneyed kidnapping scheme; the way the friendship is tested by Mario’s budding affair with Pablo’s sister; and the way the kidnapping scheme goes awry. Attempts to draw parallels between the characters’ destinies and that of Argentina itself are naive. Pinto’s handheld camera and rapid-fire editing drain pic of energy rather than enhancing it.