Togo ( Diego Alonso ) works as a parking attendant on “his” block. He has no fixed abode and sleeps between the roots of a large tree. The people in the neighborhood all know him; you greet each other and help each other out. Togo is always up-to-date on what’s going on in the neighborhood and is always available to do small chores and favors for his neighborhood friends. He is instantly recognizable by his walking stick and characteristic limp. His life goes on as usual, rather uneventfully, until one day young Mercedes ( Catalina Arrillaga) shows up with him. She’s still a teenager but claims to live with Togo on the streets and help him with his daily chores. But Mercedes isn’t Togo’s only uninvited visitor: the henchmen of the leader of a local drug gang want Togo to sell drugs for them on his territory – or get out of there. Otherwise, he should be cleared out of the way.
With Togo, Netflix is showing its first in-house production from Uruguay. Director and screenwriter Israel Adrián Caetanotells a straight story in his drama, focused on the two main characters, which unfortunately still lacks depth. It actually starts off quite promisingly: we get to know old Togo and one of his friends and observe Togo in his work as a parking lot attendant, who accepts tips from all his “customers”. The camera captures all of this in an almost documentary way, everything seems so natural here. When Togo observed a murder at night, he showed no emotion and even when the police questioned him about it, he claimed not to have noticed anything. He would like to remain undisturbed and simply go through his everyday life undisturbed. There are a few hints later in the film of what his life was like before he slipped into homelessness.
Even in Mercedes’ life apart from the beginning friendship with Togo, we only catch a few glimpses. She lives with wealthy parents who finally seem to want to shove their depressed daughter back into inpatient therapy. “My family sucks,” she explains to Togo at one point in the film, to which Togo replies, “No family is normal,” Mercedes concludes that it’s probably best without a family. And although Togo tries to make her understand that one can never be complete without a family, it is he who, in the last part of the film, tries to solve his biggest problem all by himself, without any outside help.
Not much happens on the way to this final thought. As already mentioned, the backgrounds of both Togo and Mercedes are outlined concisely – too concise to make complex and interesting characters out of them. The members of the drug gang who serve as antagonists in the film also do nothing more than serve as villains. With its brief insights into the previous stories and life backgrounds of its main characters, the film comes across as a series pilot who wants to make you want more in the first episode, but still withholds the really important revelations and insights. Just that Togois not the start of a series, but wants to be a self-contained work. On the other hand, the story told here clearly leaves a lot to be desired and the type of staging isn’t original enough to really leave an impression either.
The thin plot of Togo’s resistance to the takeover of “his” bloc by the criminal gang finally culminates in a confrontation that turns out differently than expected. But even that doesn’t save the film anymore, but instead raises eyebrows and raises opens questions from the viewer. Nothing really wants to fit together here, although the main actor Diego Alonso is convincing in all emotional states. But the screenplay doesn’t make the events surrounding him, Mercedes, and the fight against the drug gang a well-rounded, exciting story. Significantly more fine-tuning would have been necessary here before the start of shooting, in order to give the plot and characters more depth and thus make the film more interesting and better.