The Tenth Man (2016) Movie Review

By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –

Argentina, and in particular its capital Buenos Aires, is much more diverse than most would think- a dizzying blend of Andean, Latin, and continental European cultures that makes for one of the most interesting and contradictory histories in South America.  The country that harbored Eichmann is perhaps never as contradictory as its history with its thriving Jewish population, the sixth largest in the world.

mcdonalds-kosher-argentina

Bet your town doesn’t have one of these.

The Tenth Man is about an Argentine Jew living in New York, Ariel (Alan Sabbagh), who returns to Buenos Aires to see his Dad, the perpetually missing Usher (Usher Barilka), who works as a kind of fixer & charity leader to the Once Jewish district of the city.  As Usher enlists him for errand after errand to help out the people of his old hometown, he finds himself drawn towards the faith and culture he left behind.  The presence of demure but direct Eva (Julieta Zylberberg) certainly doesn’t hurt.

A Toast

The Tenth Man is a coming home story, a comedy, and a cultural immersion all in one, and despite its quick 82 minute runtime serves each aspect of this well.  Sabbagh does a great job embodying a character who is very reluctant to get caught up into his father’s schemes, with some childhood scars due to the man’s continual placing of his community’s needs over his son’s.

However, the comedical portion of the film shoes the affability with which Usher manipulates all those who will pick up one of his many throw-away cell phones with varying amounts of credit left, all in service of keeping this colorful community humming and well.  Ariel can’t help but appreciate the rewards of this hard work, and discovers he has not a little of his father in him.

Director Daniel Burman crafts a fairly low-stakes, but amiable, interesting, and well-delivered tale here in which, like Ariel, you’ll find yourself drawn into and appreciating the rhythms of.

THE TENTH MAN, (aka EL REY DEL ONCE), Alan Sabbagh, 2016. © Kino Lorber / courtesy Everett

Beer Two

The plot really is very low-key, though, and surprisingly attention-demanding.  You really have to pay attention to the scores of cell phone conversations to see the web Usher is trying to weave to keep his son in Argentina.

Beer Three

Speaking of which, ultimately, there’s a bit of a weird message here.  Usher’s schemes are humorous, but kind of Machiavellian and probably not worth celebrating in the context of how he uses them to control his son.  It’s the sort of thing that’s going to be a pretty big blow-up down the road between them when things aren’t quite so hunky-dory.

Verdict

The Tenth Man is a low-stakes but winning, character-driven drama set in a lively, interesting community you’re probably not familiar with.  Give it a look.

3beers

The Tenth Man (2016) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: until you get used to “Usher”

Capture

Even Google can’t handle it.

Take a Drink: for funerals and dead men’s apartments

Take a Drink: for cell phone conversations

Take a Drink: for each errand Ariel is sent on

Do a Shot: when we finally meet Usher

About Henry J. Fromage

Movieboozer is a humor website and drinking games are intended for entertainment purposes only, please drink responsibly.

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