Dir:Israel Adrian Caetano,Argentina. 2006. 102mins
Based on a true story set in 1970s Argentina,Israel Adrian Caetano’s Bueno Aires 1977(Cronaca De Una Fuga) is a familiar story of a prison break-out told infamiliar terms.
Snapped up at Cannes by TheWeinstein Company for the US, whereit opens in January 2007, and Australasia, the film stands to garner plenty of laurels for its intentions,and while it may divide critical opinion, looks likely to reach wideinternational distribution.
The film is adapted from the account of one of only twoescapes from a secret detention house kept by the Argentinian military junta.
Wasting no time on introductory frills, Caetano’spre-credit sequence throws university student Claudio Tamburrini (Roderigo dela Serna) into the hands of a security task force, who arrest him after he’snamed by another suspect.
He lands in a secluded mansion on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, wherehe is submitted, like all the inmates, to horrific tortures, sadistic beatingsand countless humiliations.
Meanwhile, an investigation is put in motion, but it’san incompetent and unprofessional one.
After four months of hell, during which they are physicallyand emotionally beaten to submission and threatened with imminent execution, Claudioand the three inmates sharing his room, Guillermo (Nazareno Caserno), Gallego(Lautaro Delgado) and El Vasco (Matias Marmorato), manage to escape, naked andhandcuffed, into the pouring rain.
Working from Tamburrini’s first-hand account, Caetanoand his two scriptwriting partners, Esteban Student and Julian Loyola, take ablack and white approach to both character and events, with both victims andtorturers pawns in the larger historical context.
The result divests all the characters of anyinteresting or distinctive personality. While one naturally sympathises withthe victims, who, in such a regime, are all guilty unless proved otherwise, thevillains come off less as unquestioning followers of orders but rather assadists who so enjoy the violence they readily take it one step further.
The beatings, the mauled bodies and the brutal methodsused in this reign of terror, are presented realistically and in a direct, straightforwardmanner.
More complex aspects of the story - such as therelations between those arrested and the informers who ratted on them, the sadistswho carry out the torture, and the behaviour of civilians who risk their neck helpingthe escapees - are mentioned but never explored in depth.
The main object here seems to bring back the horror ofthe past as a warning against it being repeated, and for that, no punches arepulled.
It works and the result looks as scary as it wasintended, but even horror stops registering once an audience is exposed to it toooften or too long.
The last act, the escape itself, when thoseunrecognizable human beings are brought back to life by a sense of hope, is themost exciting part of the picture.
It is a pity that the film leaves out much of whatfollowed. The film closes with a reference to the 1985 investigation committeewhich brought all these facts to light. What it doesn’t point out, however, isthat legal proceedings against the generals were suspended soon after, ageneral amnesty was proclaimed in 1989, and only in 2003 were the nationalsecurity laws repealed and the condemnations reinstituted.
K&S Films (Arg)
Wild Bunch (33) 1 53 01 50 30
Julian Loyola based on Pase Libre - La fuga de laMansion Sere
Rodrigo de la Serna