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Alex Van der Wyck,
The Rio/SP FilmFests' Unofficial Critic's Note:Among the 3 best Argentine films of 2004/5
It is odd that this film, which has won several international awards, in the past 5 months or so, has NO user comment. This is why I will contribute my two cent's worth; perhaps to help those of you out there to determine whether this film is for you or not.
It is definitely among the top 3 or 4 Argentine films of the season, along with ROMA and GEMINIS. Like these last two films, however, it is also not for everyone, but it does share with the last two the theme of convoluted family relationships made in Buenos Aires.
Another commonality between the 3, is the excellent directing. This film's creator is of one of Argentina's best 40 something director, now in his prime. In comparison, ROMA and GEMINIS are directed by a very consecrated mid 60s director, and a young female director.
The three are from different generations, but are by now all internationally respected and all share their intent on exploring Argentina's tortured soul - a national pastime, second maybe to tango and football, or maybe on the same footing.
That said, Alejandro Agresti, known since his Best Revelation Director Award at the 1987 San Sebastian Film Festival, has achieved his best work with "Un MUNDO," surpassing the sensitive and touching "Valentín" (2002) with Carmen Maura.
The theme may address the familiar and overworked theme of the "desaparecidos" (the missing/disappeared from the former dictatorship"), but Agresti adds cinematic touches, parallel subplots, and chillingly desolate locales, to differentiate this film from the others. The sense,of mystery and unanswered questions are other well succeeded approaches used by the director.
The plot is relatively simple. A couple was separated during the early 80s. The disappeared husband was assumed dead, but his pregnant wife was spared. Twenty or so years later, the wife discovers that her husband is still alive, hiding or in denial of his past in a desolate beach town in the south, which comes alive at most 2 month per year during the summer. The wife (with no easy life herself these past decades) travels to present him with their daughter, who have never seen each other nor perhaps known of each other's existence.
At the very end of the film, they all try to reconstruct the family that they may have dreamed of, if it's not too late, and if forgiveness and understanding prevail. Mother and daughter help the father recover the past of which he was robbed (or was he?), but is this really possible? The family strives for a better world, hence the title in Spanish.
It's an unusual film, and very watchable. At 90 minutes or so, it's very bearable. Despite its inherently slow paced theme, another (more vain) director may have wanted to add another 20 or 30 minutes. This director wisely chose not to do this, and not compromise the mystery and the fine pacing which characterizes this family drama.
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