CHILE, 1976

CHILE, 1976

(director/writer: Manuela Martelli; screenwriter: Alejandra Moffat; cinematographer: Yarara Rodriguez; editor: Camila Mercadal; music: Maria Portugal; cast: Aline Kuppenheim (Carmen), Nicolas Sepulveda(Elias), Hugo Medina (Father Sanchez), Alejandro Goic (Miguel), Carmen Gloria Martinez (Estela); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Alejandra Garcia/Andres Wood/Omar Zuniga Hidalgo/Dominga Sotomayor; Kino Lorber; 2022-Chile/Argentina/Qatar-in Spanish with English subtitles)

“A well-observed tense feminine political thriller.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A well-observed tense feminine political thriller told from the POV of a guilt-ridden upper middle-class woman. It’s set during the time of the ruthless dictator Pinochet, when he tried to remove any leftists in Chile. It’s skillfully directed by Manuela Martelli (“Land Tides”/”Apnea”), a Chilean actress and writer, and is co-written by her and Alejandra Moffat. The nerve-tingling musical score by Maria Portugal is unforgettable, and the star performance by the lead actress Aline Kuppenheim is scintillating.

During 1976 in Chile, with the fascist Pinochet in power (since a coup of the elected government in 1973), there was great violence in Santiago. This made Carmen (Aline Kuppenheim), the stylish wealthy wife of the city hospital doctor (Alejandro Goic) to move to her country beach house with her maid Estela (Carmen Gloria Martinez) to escape the chaos and the actions of the secret police. But at the local yacht club, she is turned off by the complicity with the dictator by her fellow upper-class members.

Because of her nursing experience with the Red Cross when a youngster, the local leftist priest, Father Sanchez (Hugo Medina), asks her to secretly nurse the wounded gunshot in the leg vic, the young man Elias (Nicolas Sepulveda), who is hiding from government officials. This contact puts Carmen in touch with the active underground movement, trying to remove the dictator from office. As she realizes the risks taken, she fears for her hubby, children and grand-children if it becomes known what she is doing.

It turns into an intriguing thriller, as all sorts of things are happening around her, like police checkpoints, as Carmen becomes very frightened as her former calm world living experience has changed and she sees for the first time how much her country is so violently divided.

It’s a bold story of how we wake up and see things when we no longer cover our eyes and get involved in the political struggles that shape our lives. It’s a nuanced film that in a subtle way shows how we view the world when we actively participate in it despite the consequences it might have on our lives.