Sunday, October 29, 2006

BUENOS AIRES 1977/CRONICA DE UNA FUGA - tense thriller

BUENOS AIRES 1977 is a new movie from the Uruguayan writer-director, Israel Adrián Caetano. It is based on the autobiography of a goal-keeper called Claudio Tamburrini who was abducted by Argentine para-militaries in 1977, tortured, held captive for over 4 months and eventually escaped. It is an unpretentious movie. It does not lift its eyes from the decaying colonial mansion in which the alleged terrorists are held. Those seeking edification on Argentine history will be disappointed. But in a way this is the secret of the movie's success. By showing us only the experience of the prisoners, it maintains a feeling of claustrophobia, fear and tension. Indeed, despite the fact that we know the prisoners escape because the movie is based on their testimony - the final escape scenes had me literally on the edge of my seat.

The director achieves this tension by using an outstanding sound design and photographic techniques that pump up the contrast and drain the colour - creating a surreal disconcerting visual and audio environment. But the success of the movie is really down to an outstanding central performance by Rodrigo de la Serna. He is probably best known to European audiences as the guy playing opposite Gael Garcia Bernal in THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES. Here he has to show the shock, outrage and fear of a normal man being tortured for information he cannot give. Most of the time he has to act with a scarf covering his eyes - and it is a physical performance rather than one resting on the delivery of dialogue. What's really impressive is that Caetano doesn't show any graphic torture. He relies on the way the actors look and act to convey what they have been through.

All in all, BUENOS AIRES 1977 is a great thriller if not overtly political. Well worth checking out.

BUENOS AIRES 1977 a.k.a CRONICA DE UNA FUGA a.k.a CHRONICLE OF AN ESCAPE went on release in Argentina in March 2006 and has since played Cannes (where it was nominated for the Golden Palm), Toronto and London 2006. It opened in Brazil and Mexico earlier this month and opens in France in February 2007.

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