Until the Next Time
I am pretty sure that it is not possible for someone other than an Argentine to make a film about this subject and have it matter. These are people who at the beginning of the terror supported it wholeheartedly. The military simply responded to what they saw was a terrorist threat by arresting without process and torturing. Starting small means starting; once you cross the line, everything else is trivial. And so 6 years of what ramped up to 30 police murders a day in Buenos Aires.
So this thing lacks power as a story about Argentine horror. But even through all its faults, it still rings true and haunts about things at home: power corrupted and evil. Torture to protect citizens never does.
The film is incredibly muffed, in pretty much all dimensions except…
There are two good scenes. One is when the husband of the newly missing wife is comforted by his daughter in a somewhat sexual way. This was made for American consumption, and though the interaction may be genuinely Latin, the implication in this context is plain. It was a powerful scene and sets up all that follows.
The second powerful scene is the unveiling of a spy. There is only a second that matters, when the man knows he is revealed and you see not panic but blame to his informant. It happens fast but it matters.
Otherwise, what we have is a powerfully conceived set of folding narratives: a man as a playwright (precisely as in “The Lives of Others”) in a film with deliberate dissonance. And him further as a psychic, telling the story to us and other characters as it happens to him. In other hands, this could have worked, especially with the intended fold from then there to now here.
“Tangos, l’exil de Gardel”, was not good, but still better and at least genuine.
Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.