The U.S. trailer for Ardor , starring Gael García Bernal (Rosewater) and Alice Braga (Kill Me Three Times), gives us a glance at the western genre from an Argentine perspective. Written and directed by Pablo Fendrik (Blood Appears), the film follows a lonesome traveler who mysteriously appears out of the Argentine rainforest and assists a farmer and his daughter in fighting off a group of mercenaries bent on taking their land.
Ardor premiered last year at the Cannes Film Festival and made its way through the festival circuit, where it received mostly positive reviews but didn’t build any sort of significant buzz. However, with the quality of work coming from the Argentine film industry in the past few years, audiences might find it worth their time. The country’s most recent Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language feature, Damián Szifron’s Wild Tales, was considered a genuine crowd-pleaser, and the country has found previous success at the Oscars with 2009’s The Secret in Their Eyes (which is even getting an American remake). Argentina has also grabbed attention with the animated soccer feature Underdogs, as well as another recent western, Lisandro Alonso’s Jauja.
The trailer and poster for Ardor feature a lofty quote comparing the film with the work of famed Italian director Sergio Leone as a way to garner interest. At least narratively, the film does seem to draw some inspiration from Leone’s work. Bernal’s mysterious out-of-towner character is reminiscent of Leone’s classic “Man with No Name” character portrayed by Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino) in the Dollars trilogy (A Fistful of Dollars; For a Few Dollars More; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly).
Ardor is the Spanish word for “heat.” The term also accurately describes a major event in the film, when the mercenaries try to take over the farmer’s land by burning it to smoke him and his daughter out. Ardor will see a limited run in theaters on July 17.