“Like prostitution, journalism is learned on the streets.”
The Peruvian film, Tinta Roja follows the trials and tribulations of a journalism student, Alfonso (Giovanni Ciccia), when he is assigned as an intern to a tacky tabloid called Le Clamor. While Alfonso wants to cover shows, instead that assignment falls to his attractive competitor, Nadia (Lucia Jimenez), and Alfonso finds himself unwillingly assigned to cover police stories. The newspaper editor’s philosophy is that the stories should entertain–rather than teach–the reader, and so in order to succeed, Alfonso quickly learns to toss aside all sense of journalistic ethics and chase the latest police event, and this includes suicides, car accidents, rapes, etc.
Alfonso becomes the fourth man on the police story team. Van Gogh (Carlos Gassols) is the driver who continually quotes famous sayings in an attempt to bring a sense of philosophy to the random world of crime. Escalona (Fele Martinez) is the predatory photographer, but it’s the wily Faundez (Gianfranco Brero)–a man who has no sense of shame when it comes to getting a headline–who heads the team. Faundez’s motto is to get to the scene, take the grisliest photos possible, and then round up the nearest relative of the victim and exploit them while they’re emotionally vulnerable. While Alfonso is at first horrified by this sort of behaviour, he’s soon under the influence of his new mentor, Faundez, and he quickly finds himself chasing and embellishing the tawdriest stories with gusto.
Tinta Roja is a very lively, colourful film, with plenty of dark humour, and its strong characters practically leap off the screen. After a very entertaining beginning, the film sags a little in the middle, but manages to recoup by the conclusion. Tinta Roja is based on the novel by Alberto Fuguet, and is directed by Francisco J. Lombardi. In Spanish with English subtitles.