Episodic look at the life of Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990), from his childhood in Oriente province to his death in New York City. He joins Castro's rebels. By 1964, ... See full summary »
Olatz López Garmendia,
Santiago, capital of Chile during the Marxist government of elected, highly controversial president Salvador Allende. Father McEnroe supports his leftist views by introducing a program at the prestigious "collegio" (Catholic prep school) St. Patrick to allow free admission of some proletarian kids. One of them is Pedro Machuca, slum-raised son of the cleaning lady in Gonzalo Infante's liberal-bourgeois home. Yet the new classmates become buddies, paradoxically protesting together as Gonzalo gets adopted by Pedro's slum family and gang. But the adults spoil that too, not in the least when general Pinochet's coup ousts Allende, and supporters such as McEnroe. Written by
I watched the film with my mother, who lived through the coup d'etat in Chile. The events depicted in the movie were so realistic, they transported her back to that era. She cried as we watched and explained all of the small details I wouldn't have gotten being someone who didn't experience these events for myself. With this in mind, I have to think this movie was meant to be watched by a Chilean audience to be fully understood and "felt". Someone like my mother, who has seen the atrocities that occurred in Chile in the mid-seventies, would be a more appropriate critic of this film.
Regardless, I think everyone should watch this movie. It is a touching story about friendship, growing up, social classes, and politics. The acting was exceptional. The plot was well- written. The sets, props, and costumes were accurate. It has a lot to offer as an enlightening and educational film since the story of Chile's own 9/11 has not yet reached the general masses. Because the story is told through a sentimental child's perspective, you are drawn yet closer to the characters and their emotions. Some have criticized this film harshly, stating that Wood couldn't make up his mind whether this film is a political story or a child's coming-of-age tale. Why can't it be both?
As a Chilean, I am extremely proud of this film, in its quality and accuracy. It is powerful, bold and touched me to my very core. I strongly recommend it to all, especially all of you Chilean-Americans born during this era. Ask your parents to tell you their own story, and you will see that Machuca is more than a piece of cinematic brilliance and a milestone in Chilean film. It is a film you will never forget.
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