Film Review: Heroic Losers (La Odisea De Los Giles) (NZIFF)

Heroic Losers (La Odisea De Los Giles) (2019), an Argentine heist comedy set in the early 2000s, tells the story of an endearing bunch of working-class pals that have their dream to own a cooperative stolen from them, and their tenacity to get it back. The film is based on the novel La Noche De la Usina (The Night of the Heroic Losers) by Eduardo Sacheri.

Fermín Perlassi, played by Ricardo Darín, is a onetime football star that desperately wants to get ahead in life, the hardworking way. He is approached by his friend Antonio (Luis Brandoni) to buy into an abandoned grain silo in their all but empty and struggling small town in rural Argentina. Lacking capital Fermín and his wife Lidia (Verónica Llinás), along with Antonio, set out to convince every ragtag friend and the local businesswomen in town to invest, all contributions handed over in cash dollars.

After only raising some of the asking price for the site, Fermín approaches the local bank for a loan to cover the remainder. The bank manager convinces Fermín to take the funds from a secure deposit box and deposit the funds they have into the bank in order to receive a loan the next day. Instead the group is scammed by the bank manager and his lawyer friend Manzi (Andrés Parra). When the banks are closed by government decree, Manzi manages to extract and stash the money in an underground bunker. Then the fun begins.

The storyline draws from the very real economic crisis that Argentina faced during this period and the Corralito imposed by the authorities to stop a run on the banks, preventing deposits from being withdrawn for a full year.

Ricardo Darín portrays Fermín as heartwarming and relatable in the face of adversity and tragedy. The standout acting in the film though comes from Luis Brandoni, he vivifies a hilarious simple man with cheeky smirk and a no-nonsense sense of camaraderie with ease.

They call themselves fools, but yet the group come up with gutsy and ingenious ways to break into the heavily alarmed bunker all the while having a great chuckle. A few plants get maimed along the way.

Besides the outrageous capers pulled off by the gang, the film delicately shows the everyday and mundane challenges faced getting through with dignity and humanity when life throws lemons. The film is rather poignant and relevant in today’s precarious global economic climate. The care of family members when facing loss is also addressed gracefully through the relationship between Fermín and his son Rodrigo (Chino Darín), helped by the chemistry of being father and son in real life.

Although already at 2 hours long, I could have easily sat through at least another hour of the group taking their sweet revenge in their rickety vehicles with their not so rickety zest for an honest life.

Heroic Losers is part of the NZ International Film Festival. It is screening in select cinemas and venues across the country and is available to view on line. To view or purchase tickets, please go here:

Andy Baker