Do you have a best friend? Not just a pal you’ve been hanging out with a lot recently, but a for real, ride-or-die best friend for life? What would it take to get that friend to turn against you? How far would things have to devolve for you to consider killing that person?
These are the questions pondered by Amigo, a Spanish thriller from director Óscar Martin. The answers it provides are all pretty negative.
Amigo is a single location two-hander staring David Pareja as David and horror icon Javier Botet as Javi. David appears to be a normal, everyday guy. Javi, however, is plagued with physical ailments that limit his mobility and possibly speech.
As the film progresses, the backstory here becomes clear. David and Javi are pals, but David is somehow responsible for an automobile accident that disabled Javi and killed his wife. Out of obligation, he now takes care of Javi in a remote cottage.
What a nice guy! Except, Javi hates David and cannot forgive him. Despite a near 100% dependency on his former friend, Javi doesn’t let him forget what he did or let him off the hook. This, along with just the general irritation of having to care for Javi begins to eat away at David until his paranoia becomes all-encompassing. People don’t usually recover from that.
Amigo feels like the second half of a larger movie. The idea that this friendship has fallen to tragedy isn’t really conveyed because we never get a chance to see what this relationship was like pre-accident. What if David and Javi weren’t really friends at all? What if David’s guilt drives him to seclude Javi on the grounds of a friendship that wasn’t very strong in the first place. Our minds have free rein for interpretation as we are given so very little and the central friendship the plot hangs upon seems so unlikely.
This is a sparse film in both action and setting. Not much happens and hardly anything is said. But it is nevertheless a delight to see Javier Botet give a dramatic performance free from horror prosthetics. There is an extended scene of physical action focused solely on Javi’s struggle to quickly travel down some stairs that is super impressive and worth the price of admission alone.
The film was shot over the course of one week and obviously had a low budget so it feels unfair to saddle it with demerits for what it chooses not to do. Nevertheless, I left the film wishing I knew more about David and Javi. While appreciating the film’s understated exposition, I needed more about their friendship, the accident, and Javi’s marriage to connect emotionally with these characters. As it is, however, Amigo offers an interesting look at paranoia aided by a strong performance from Botet.