Returning to the melodramatic gold mine of the wonky parent-child dynamic, the Argentine director Sebastián Schindel follows last year’s “The Son” with another Netflix picture, “The Crimes That Bind.” Claiming roots in a true story, his screenplay (written with Pablo del Teso) once again features a disturbing pregnancy and parents willing to do anything to protect a child.
One of these is Alicia (the magnificent Cecilia Roth), a wealthy grandmother sucked into not one, but two criminal proceedings. Her son, Daniel (Benjamín Amadeo), is in prison, charged with sexual assault and attempted murder. In a seemingly horrific coincidence, her meek live-in servant, Gladys (Yanina Ávila), is on trial for first-degree murder, leaving Alicia to care for her 5-year-old son.
How these cases will collide, and how the formidable Alicia will maneuver a path between them — and around her increasingly irritated husband (Miguel Ángel Solá) — is more than enough plot to keep us hooked. Repeated glimpses of Gladys and a blood-spattered bathroom tease a terrible revelation, and Julián Apezteguia’s cinematography leans appropriately cool and brittle. But Schindel struggles with his pacing, and the movie dawdles too long before breaking into a sprint in the final 20 minutes. Dry courtroom scenes focusing on the barely verbal Gladys drain the story’s energy and our good will, and a fractured timeline seems unnecessarily confusing.
Even so, Roth is never less than a treat as a woman whose veil of class and privilege is being slowly lifted to reveal her misplaced loyalties. “The Crimes That Bind” might feel leaden, but Alicia’s transformation feels lighter than air.
The Crimes That Bind
Not rated. In Spanish, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 39 minutes. Watch on Netflix.
Source: NY Times – Review