La Dosis (Dose) Movie Review

Samuel Goldwyn Pictures
Reviewed for & linked from Rotten Tomatoes by: Harvey Karten
Director: Martín Kraut
Writer: Martín Kraut
Cast: Carlos Portaluppi, Ignacio Rogers, Lorena Vega
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 5/13/21
Opens: June 11, 2021

In Joseph Kesselring’s 1941 play “Arsenic and Old Lace” later made into a movie by Frank Capra starring Cary Grant, two Brooklyn sisters put lonely old bachelors out of their misery when hosting them in their rooming house. A greetings cocktail of elderberry wine spiked with arsenic, cyanide and strychnine ends what the sisters consider the men’s suffering. The play lasted three-and one-half years on Broadway, which shows that treating serial murder as funny as a decent episode of Saturday Night Live will tickle the funny bones of a wide audience.

Serial killings by two nurses in Argentina, Marcos (Carlos Portaluppi) and Gabriel (Ignacio Rogers), are not so amusing, but then again, these two fellows are not like Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy or Jeffrey Dahmer whom few law-abiding people consider entertaining. One difference is that Marco’s and Gabriel’s patients come to them, or at least to the hospital. They do not have to entice women to their lairs. While the patients shown in the hospital are in the ICU, critical though sometimes salvageable, only one of them asks for death, possibly because none of the nurses would give him a cigarette, and also, maybe, he knows his malady is terminal.

In the first murder, Marcos actually saves a patient that others give up for lost. The professionals give CPR to a woman several times, including some shocks with a defibrillator, consider her lost, but Marco hits her with yet another shock allowing her to live, as one puts it, for another week. She does not get even that: Marco ensures that she exits peacefully a day or so later.

Marco is something like the sisters in “Arsenic and Old Lace,” while Gabriel, a new, young, engaging nurse, is a killer as well, but his motives are not as “benevolent” as Marco’s. Gabriel kills for enjoyment. When Marco catches him and does not approve, Gabriel becomes extra friendly, offering the older and much larger man rides in his car. Did they really think they could get away when the staff is audited for excessive deaths?

Director Martín Kraut in his freshman narrative feature does not go Hollywood style with tension-filled music (thank goodness there is no music in the soundtrack while people are talking), though he is not opposed to ratcheting up some effective melodrama in a climactic finale. Gabriel is confronted not by nice nurse Noelia (Lorena Vega) who is clueless about the subversion going on in the ICU, but by the guy who is a lot like Gabriel in the killing fields but is simply more moderate against the young man’s radicalism. Call this a thriller, if you wish, but given the slow pace before the climax, and the efforts by the two males who grow to mistrust each other, it’s more realistic. Killings by nurses have taken place, and in fact Texas pediatrician Genene Jones did not kill sixty babies; the voices in his head did. And Jane Toppin got a sexual thrill, climbing into bed while her thirty-one victims died.

You might get the impression that patients who enter hospitals generally get cured, but the truth is, hospital-based infections can do the opposite. Or are the deaths caused by infections?

In Spanish with English subtitles.

93 minutes. © 2021 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – B
Acting – B
Technical – B+
Overall – B

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