The Dragon Defense
La defensa del dragon
Panorama | Contemporary World Cinema
Most movies about slackers focus on people in their teens or 20s; this droll Colombian movie is a refreshing exception. Here the slacker is Samuel (Gonzalo di Sagarminaga), a middle-aged math tutor who spends most of his time playing chess and indulging in other non-productive pleasures. His buddies are Marcos (Manuel Navarro) and Joaquin (Hernan Mendez); both have their defects and their virtues, and they’re good company for each other, which is what counts the most.
The shabby bars, cafés, chess clubs and casinos of Bogotá serve as the atmospheric setting for Natalia Santa’s winsome debut, which plays like Latin-flavoured Kaurismäki. This is a film of talk over action, inertia over momentum, recreation over work. However, the banter is smart and funny, and director Santa has a great eye for composition and imagery, making this a treat for the eyes.
"Harvests quiet moments of humanity and poetry from… humdrum lives… The Dragon Defense’s keen sense of how people can be moulded by their environment until they become part of the background is refreshingly original, and conveyed with real directorial panache… [The] direction is confident, especially in terms of the rhythm and pacing… This wry, compassionate female perspective on some uncomfortably familiar midlife male traits… repays the viewer in deadpan charm."—Lee Marshall, Screen