Have you ever just wanted to leave behind your boring 9-5, pack everything up in a backpack, move to South America, fall in love with a beautiful local, and get involved in international drug smuggling? Yeah, me neither. But that’s the unlikely true story of an otherwise painfully normal IT technician from Olympia, Washington via Ohio who now happens to be completing his sentence for cocaine smuggling in a Brazilian prison .
A few short years ago, Chris Kirk was just an average guy punching the clock until a fortuitous encounter with a magazine article about Pablo Escobar’s pet hippos sent him packing to South America. According to the Brazilian documentary A Vida Privada dos Hipopótamos (I Touched All Your Stuff), directed by Maíra Bühler and Matías Mariani, everything went downhill when he met a beautiful and mysterious half-Japanese Colombian woman who also happened to be a drug mule.
At least, that’s the story Kirk spins when he sits down to bare it all for Bühler and Mariani’s camera. We’ll have to wait till the end to find out how true these prison recollections actually are, but this duo of Brazilian directors does a masterful job of using their unstable narrator to offer up a larger reflection on the very nature of truth and lie in storytelling.
The film’s curious title comes from the fact that the directors were given unfettered access to a hard drive containing 80 gigabytes of photos, video, and other files documenting his relationship with this seductive femme fatale. In addition, the directors carry out interviews with Kirk’s close friends and family members to get to the bottom of who this man really is, and what could have possibly motivated him to leave it all behind for a life of crime. Oh and did we mention after moving to Colombia he shaved his head, grew a goatee, and started sporting dark sunglasses? I guess the porkpie hats are hard to come by that far south of the border.