Chilean director Pablo Larraín’s films are political with an infused aesthetic. His second feature, the impressive and often tough to watch ‘Tony Manero’ was set during the counter-revolutionary days of the mid-late 1970s. This, his third (and very much a companion piece to his second), is set in 1973, the year of the death – either by suicide or murder – of the Chilean socialist premier Salvador Allende. It follows another perverse anti-hero (again played by the remarkable Alfredo Castro) and is equally arresting, thoughtful, discomfiting and almost privately sorrowing. This time Castro plays an emotionally inscrutable ‘functionary’ in the capital’s mortuary department who is more concerned with his creepy wooing of a dancer neighbour (who works in a seedy cabaret joint called the ‘Bim Bam Bum’) than with the momentous events unfolding around him. Quite what metaphorical/ allegorical purposes Larraín intends for this dumb but dangerous instrument – and his film – you can argue over. What is certain, however, is that Larraín’s clever use of almost humorously unconventional framings, expressively washed-out colour tones and mysterious low-key performances brings together human comedy and historical tragedy to unique, and surprisingly emotional, effect.
Friday September 9 2011
Cast and crew