A Character Study in “How To Kill a Man”

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What would it take to kill a man?
One of two questions presented, and answered, in Chilean Director-screenwriter Alejandro Fernandez Almendras’ To Kill a Man (Matar a un hombre).
Meek and middle-aged Jorge (Daniel Candia) rarely fights back, a fact that becomes obvious when he allows the neighborhood bully, Kalule (Daniel Antivilo), and his gang to mug him. Jorge’s son is especially upset of the news his father brings home. He attempts to confront the hoodlum and get back his father’s diabetic kit, only to get shot–an incident that lands Kalule in prison.
The film skips to two years later, after Kalule has been released from prison. The family is continuously tormented as they suffer his wrath. And though they file complaints multiple times, it becomes clear that the police will not help, leaving Jorge with no choice but to defend his family (and his pride) himself.
And the second question arises: What is it like to kill a man?
Candia plays the role as an everyday man well. You will empathize. And though initially frustrated with the painfully passive protagonist, you’ll find to be surprisingly relieved to see him finally standing up for himself, even in the midst of committing a heinous crime. And yet, as is the case in all facets of life, there are always consequences, which are immediately evident as the film nears its resolution. 
According to Almendras, there was no storyboarding during production. He decided on the camera angles the night before they began shooting. This was especially interesting to learn, considering there are some unique wide-angled shots and some with excessive headroom, a method the director explained he chose to depict the family being crushed under the pressures of their harassment. Though not often seen in film, these methods worked beautifully in To Kill a Man–Anna Xiques

Jaie Laplante

Jaie Laplante is the Miami Film Festival's executive director and director of programming. Learn more about Jaie on Programmers.