Augustin (Viggo Mortensen) and Pedro (also Viggo Mortensen) are twin brothers, but estranged. One is a doctor whose wife is intent on adopting a baby, the other a petty criminal and beekeeper in the Argentinean countryside. When their worlds collide, each brother must make a decision about his own life.
Viggo Moretensen takes on a lot in Everybody Has a Plan. Not only is he playing twin brothers whose lives could not be more different, but he also performs throughout the film while speaking in Spanish. Mortensen gives the nuanced and subtle performances that we have come to know him for, but also manages to make each brother different from the other.
Director Ana Piterbarg took a risk in creating a film that called for identical twins, but it is a risk that she pulled off. While Mortensen is great, however, the rest of the cast are equally as strong. Sofia Gala as Rosa is a standout. This is a young woman who lives on a remote island, but has the street smarts of a woman much older and wiser than she. When her world collapses however, Gala allows the character’s tough exterior to crumble.
The story – created by Piterbarg and Ana Cohan – is a fascinating one. We have seen the story of twins switching lives before, but the idea that a rich man with a successful career and loving wife would willingly and almost happily assume the life of his poorer and less glamorous brother is one that provokes debate. Yes, there is an issue within Augustin’s life, but it could have easily been solved without resorting to changing his entire identity. This raises the question as to why Augustin would do it, and why, when confronted, attacked and arrested while living life as Pedro, he would not just go off and be Pedro somewhere else. The answer is never clear but, as well as the love interest in the form of Rosa, it is implied that Augustin must atone for his brother’s sins – Pedro is part of a kidnapping ring – as well as wrestle with the demons that plagued him as a child.
Piterbarg has created a fascinating film carried by a strong performance from Mortensen, but this does not mean that the film is not without its problems. The pacing and running time severely weaken the impact of the story, as does the fact that nothing seems to be resolved at the end; neither of these men were perfect – Pedro asks his brother to kill him as he is already dying, and Augustin leaves the body for his wife to find. It seems rather cruel – but each had qualities that redeemed them and made them human. As well as this, many characters realise that Augustin has replaced his brother, but only one character says anything about this, and no-one does anything about it. Tension is built, as it seems as though Augustin is about to be found out, but it just slips away, leaving the audience feeling as though a whole avenue of the film as been ignored.
In all, Everybody Has a Plan is anchored with strong performances and beautiful cinematography but even Mortensen’s fantastic turn as twins cannot distract from the fact that the script is a lot weaker than it should be for a film with so much to say.