Emma Watson picks a stinker with this clumsy, ‘Argo’-ish political thriller. It’s fictional but based on an actual German cult led by Nazi paedophile Paul Schäfer. In the 1960s, Schäfer fled to Chile with his followers to set up Colonia Dignidad (Dignity Colony). Read the Wikipedia page. You’ll learn more than you will from this film.
It’s 1973, and smart, level-headed English air stewardess Lena (Watson) flies to Chile where she hooks up with her German left-wing activist boyfriend Daniel (Daniel Brühl) just as General Pinochet seizes power in a military coup. After being captured and tortured by the army, Daniel is sent by the dictatorship to the Colony, a creepy farming sect surrounded by barbed wire. Looking like they’re in a Nazi holiday camp, men and women dress in traditional German lederhosen and aprons and are segregated by Schäfer (Michael Nyqvist) to purify them of unclean thoughts. Lena joins the cult to rescue Daniel.
You can see why this girl-saves-guy storyline clicked with Watson’s feminism, and she brings pin-sharp intelligence to the role. But everything here feels inauthentic, from the cast speaking their lines in English to the unthrilling final escape attempt.