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Review: Argentine thriller ‘La Dosis’ quietly places a killer in a hospital

Two men in medical scrubs in the movie "La Dosis."
Carlos Portaluppi, left, and Ignacio Rogers in the movie “La Dosis.”
(Samuel Goldwyn Films)

The Times is committed to reviewing theatrical film releases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because moviegoing carries risks during this time, we remind readers to follow health and safety guidelines as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials.

Few times is a person more vulnerable than when bedridden at a hospital, under the care of people who’ve sworn to do anything in their power to save lives. But what happens when that social code is broken and danger comes from within the medical institution? That’s the heavy moral concern pertinent to Argentine director Martín Kraut’s biting psychological thriller “La Dosis” (Spanish for “The Dose”).

Male nurse Marcos (Carlos Portaluppi), a heavyset man going through a separation, cares about those he cares for daily. Yet, the godlike power he’s granted, administering medication in this kingdom of illness, has been fatally misused. Portaluppi presents an impenetrable character, perhaps too much so because we are never certain of his fluctuating thought process or emotional state.

Enter Gabriel (Ignacio Rogers), a deceivingly charming Lionel Messi-lookalike that swoops everyone in with his wide-eyed personality and energy. Marcos isn’t so much jealous of him as he is worried that his place in the hospital hierarchy is threatened after 20 years. The more Gabriel forcefully tries to befriend him, the more his conniving true face is revealed.

Workplace biases against Marcos’ body and his age play a part in nearly every interaction. Aside from verbal aggressions, the director uses Marcos’ size in shots where someone repeatedly goes around him or bumps him to telegraph how others find his presence inconvenient. On the contrary, Gabriel easily gains people’s trust based on his pristine appearance and disposition to learn. Rogers endows his pathological role with diabolical placidness.

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Kraut mines the cold darkness of the ICU for its lugubrious atmosphere, almost as if it were a purgatory. With the setting’s built-in stakes and two characters with a history of overstepping their duties, this well-performed, modest film raises some alarming questions. Fear is elicited from the plausibility of its scenario and our collective potential to becomes victims.

People are dying and an investigation is ongoing, but Marcos’ own sins prevent him from heroism. Sooner rather than later, lessons are learned at needle point.

‘La Dosis’

In Spanish with English subtitles

Not Rated

Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Playing: Available June 11 on VOD


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