Imagining Argentina


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Time Out says

The hero of Hampton's film, set during Argentina's 1970s military dictatorship, is Carlos Rueda (Banderas), a children's theatre director in the middle of a production of the Orpheus myth. When he confronts General Guzmán about the 'disappearance' of hundreds, including his wife (Thompson), Guzmán lamely offers: 'I have never claimed to be omniscient.' Before leaving, Rueda declares that the people of Argentina possess something more powerful than Guzmán and his thugs: imagination. The film swings queasily from sentimentality to grisly violence, and this erratic tone never offers a way to come to grips with the evil depicted. Soon after his journalist wife disappears, Rueda becomes clairvoyant. He sees the fate of the disappeared by touching their loved ones. A metaphor for the healing power of compassion and storytelling, this is never explained, and registers as an unintended parody of Spock's Vulcan mind-meld. The allusion to Orpheus evokes the transformative power of myth and art, but while the film may offer a reminder of the persistence of evil, more than insipid fantasy is required to keep the horror at bay. (From the novel by Lawrence Thornton.) CBu.

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