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Criticism | Small traces: Denzel Washington and Jared Leto shine in predictable criminal suspense

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In the middle of a neo-noir atmosphere, where shadows and low light dominate the scenes, two policemen at the extreme of their jobs – one in their ascent and the other in their “fall” – hover in front of a succession of serial femicides, still unresolved. Time is no longer an ally and under pressure to find a resolution, Denzel Washington and Rami Malek sail through Los Angeles in the 90s, looking for a man capable of committing such atrocities. Between doubts and allegedly suspicious behavior, Jared Leto appears as the one who carries a target in himself, under the pretext of being perhaps responsible for the crimes. Little Traces is a thriller more questions than answers, imbued with a predictability that can even take away some of its flavor, while preserving some of its sparkle.

And here it looks like we’re in the 90s. Filmmaker John Lee Hancock (“A Possible Dream”) delivers a storyline that inevitably brings us back to the criminal genre of the period in question. Always playing with the doubt of his characters, he seeks to reflect on perceptions and how their inaccuracy can become a problem of extravagant proportions. Here we follow two hours of film in the footsteps of our protagonists, as they walk in the footsteps of possible serial killer Albert Sparma (Leto). With all the traits that theoretically would make him guilty, the feature film takes us through this journey full of prejudices and pre-established concepts, trying to build its mystery in the proposed rhythm of “is he guilty or not?”.

But while the storyline doesn’t break new ground at all, and may even frustrate the desires of many moviegoers, The Little Traces isn’t even close to being a lost cinematic experience. Completely abandoned in the performances, the film is built in a more efficient and convincing way in its protagonists. Here, the psychological complexity present in the characterizations of Washington, Malek, and Leto makes your time worthwhile. The density of their performances and the affection for the conflicts presented in the plot make them – easily – the best in the film. And of course, what could be a failed experiment in the hands of the wrong cast becomes an even more valuable opportunity for personal reflection.

The weakness of The Little Traces lies in its lack of daring. At first making us believe that we would be faced with a narrative built on the model of Diabolic Feast, the film soon sidesteps this and takes a common path. But still, if you’re really ready to get caught up in the intrigue, the movie can bring you little surprises and immerse you in an atmosphere of constant questioning – which will keep you very busy and focused on the plot. But when a movie is too much about its audience’s commitment to be good, that’s where the problem lies. And it is from this evil that this thriller – so full of potential – is lost in itself. Without too much effort, the film will eventually become unforgettable, although its ending saves a nerve-wracking and delicious surprise for movie lovers who are restless and leave no obvious solutions for an answer.

Skating in his first half at a slow pace, the criminal suspense could have been resolved in less time and can annoy the more impatient. With a closing that will leave audiences very intrigued or very indignant, Little Traces is not a film for anyone, but it’s also a precious opportunity to discover three brilliant Oscar winners in such a pleasant dynamic that it will even make it happen. your precious time has not been spent in vain.

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