(director/writer: Felipe Galvez Haberle; screenwriter: Antonia Girardi; cinematographer: Simone D’Arcangelo; editor: Matthieu Taponier; music: Harry Allouche; cast: Sam Spruell (Colonel Martin), Alfredo Castro (Jode Menendez), Mariano Llinas (Francisco Moreno), Marcelo Alonso (Vicuna), Benjamin Westfall (Bill), Luis Machin (Monsenor), Mark Stanley (Alexander MacLennan), Camilo Arancibia (Segundo), Mishell Guaña (Kiepia), Agustín Rittano (Captain Ambrosio), Adriana Stuven (Josefina Menendez); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Giancarlo Nasi, Thierry Lenouvel, Benjamin Domenech, Santiago Gallelli, Matias Roveda, Stefano Centini. Emily Morgan; Quiddity Films/MUBI; 2023-Chile/ Argentina/UK/Denmark/Taiwan/Germany/Sweden/France-in Spanish & English, with English subtitles)

“A sharp-edged social commentary on European colonial racism.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An unevenly told but richly crafted retro styled film, with a sharp-edged social commentary on European colonial racism. It’s told in chapters and shot as a Western. It’s set in Chile, 1901, during its brutal colonial period (that featured the genocide of Chile’s natives by the Spanish landowners). The historical drama, inspired by a true story, is directed, in his debut, by Felipe Galvez Haberle and co-written by him and Antonia Girardi.

The arthouse film takes on the POV of its central character, the lone Chilean Indigenous character, Segundo (Camilo Arancibia), in its postcolonial critique.

Segundo, an expert marksman, travels with an English army captain (Mark Stanley) and an American mercenary (Benjamin Westfall) to clear the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of the natives who live there, while in the service of the powerful Spanish oligarch José Menéndez (Alfredo Castro), to whom the state has granted ownership of the land and who orders the genocide of the natives.

The brutality of that colonial period has haunted Chile, ever since. It’s an important history lesson to view so its horror story shouldn’t be repeated.
It played at the Cannes Film Festival.

REVIEWED ON 12/23/2023  GRADE: B