A rare Colombian-Argentine-Canadian co-production, The Boss is the story of horrible Argentine executive/husband/lover who hopes to escape a miserable existence by fleecing his employer, breaking the family piggy bank, and dashing off to Mexico with a panting mistress.
Ricardo Osorio (Carlos Hurtado) hates his wife (Marcela Benjumea), their bleating, incontinent infant, his in-laws, friends, and the employees of Rioplatense Limited, a jam factory that has hired him on as head of Human Resources.
Ten minutes in , we hate Ricardo right back. A stooped, snarling whiner with a waterfall comb-over, the HR executive is a chore to be with as he performs daily his rounds, avoiding responsibility and looking for stolen moments with a voluptuous lover (Katherine Porto ).
Questions abound. Why is the mistress panting? Why does the hated wife still crave Ricardo's freezer-burn touch? A woman at work also longs to be with her truly horrible boss. Why? What could these women see in a dreary sack of mutton like Ricardo?
Beyond all that, what did audiences in Colombia and Argentina, where the film was apparently a modest, low-budget hit, see in a movie with such an unlikable villain slip-sliding on diapers and spilled factory jam, chasing in vain for an elusive bombshell?
Perhaps the answer lies in the questions. Seeing an undeserving jerk boss attracting romantic partners confirms cynical working-class notions about the rich getting all the breaks. Besides, Ricardo is flagrantly unhappy and, as mentioned, frequently tarred in baby doo-doo.
Watching parvenu strivers get theirs is popular sport in any national cinema.
What Canadian audiences might get out of The Boss is another matter. Crudely written and broadly performed, the movie, directed by University of Toronto graduate Jaime Escallón Buraglia, feels like a pileup of disconnected artifacts from distant eras.
Ricardo's postcoital disenchantment is reminiscent of Marcello Mastroianni's 1960s Italian sex comedies. And there is a subplot, involving walls seething with angry conspirators, that seems lifted from Terry Gilliam's Brazil.
But the film's ingredients and influences fail to cohere. North American viewers will likely want to fire The Boss long before the end of the movie.
Special to The Globe and Mail