Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Official Story (1985)

THE OFFICIAL STORY
DIRECTED BY: LUIS PUENZO
WRITTEN BY: LUIS PUENZO & AIDA BORTNIK
REVIEW FOR: 1001 MOVIES CLUB
OVERALL SCORE: 8.75/10


After the return of her longtime friend, Ana (Chunchuna Villafane), Alicia (Norma Aleandro), a local high school history teacher, is confronted with a very dangerous possibility: What if her government was capturing, torturing, and stealing the babies of people solely for their political differences? And, what if her adopted daughter is one of those babies?

Based around the events of the Argentinean Dirty War of the 1970's, The Official Story is a gripping character piece, analyzing, criticizing, and unveiling the country's dark history. Painful realistic, and emotionally raw, the film is a captivating experience. Difficult to take your eyes off, and harder to shy your heart away from. Alicia's journey of self discovery is as mesmerizing, and shocking, as any tale you're likely to see.

The careful direction at the hands of Puenzo really brings a great life to the story. Breathing into each scene a certain knack for character, and politics, blending not too often seen among modern mainstream films. He creates a world, real in its authenticity, but even more so in its portrayal. We learn of the events as Alicia does. We see only through the small scope that she is able to. This world built around her, shattered, torn, and coming apart. Visceral, without belittling. Few films manage that sense of emotion and heart, especially with such a strength and determination to make it so.

My only complaints would lay in that at times certain scenes felt off, and overly long. Perhaps it's the handling of them, or my inability to grasp the emotional backlog, but, at times, I felt as if the character's forced plot developments. Especially towards the middle of the film, after a rather lulling opening, just as the movie begins to move into the political surroundings. These plot elements tend to compound on top of each other, and suddenly explode in the finale.

Said finale ends up being perhaps the most telling scene of the film. While it leaves much on the table, Aleandro delivers an award worthy emotional spill. While Hector Alterio (who plays the husband, Roberto) is forced into a corner, stuck in such a powerful scene of raw emotion where he's outacted, but manages to hold his ground. This, and the early emotional break of Ana, give the film a bit of a operatic, over the top flair. But still maintaining that level of humanism that has earned the film such praise. There's no arguing it, this movie is a movie to see before you die.

While it may be a bit operatic at times, The Official History is a powerful tale of human emotion, and discovery. As these characters are pushed to their breaking points, we are absorbed into their world. The most gripping, and emotionally relatable of worlds: one that is real.


4 better thoughts:

Simon said...

You have been linked, because I liked this review, okay? Even though I;ve never heard of this.

Mike Lippert said...

Holy crap I kind of forgot about this movie, but it is quite good isn't it? I remember sitting down to it thinking, oh great another political/social turmoil/war movie and how suprised by how intimate and personal it is and how caught up I got in it. Good review.

Univarn said...

@Simon I'd say check it out. It can be a bit overly dramatic, but I think it works.

@Mike Thanks. It is quite good, I was surprised by that as well.

This Guy Over Here said...

Dude, you were able to articulate your thoughts way better than I could on this film. It didn't quite hit me in all the right ways, but it sure earned my respect. That final scene? Wow.

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