The movie is based on the 1944 novel "Nada" (Nothing) by Spanish writer Carmen Laforet. Although conventional and melodramatic, it rose over the mediocrity of Spanish literature of the time, a consequence of the mass emigration of Spanish intellectuals after the civil war and of the ruthless censorship imposed over those who stayed by the dictatorship of Generalissimo Francisco Franco.
The novel's transposition to Argentina, in a time period ending in 1956, is anachronic and divorced from Argentine reality; for instance, the university students in the movie seem to be interested only in their careers and the theater. In reality, Argentine universities of the period were hotbeds of political activism. The script also misses the opportunity of toning down the melodrama.
Director Leopoldo Torre Nilsson's direction overcomes some of the shortcomings of the script and is brilliant at times. Torre Nilsson was aware of European movies of the period and influences can be seen here and there (this is not understood as a criticism; cinema, as art in general, does not operate in a vacuum). Excellent black-and-white cinematography by Aníbal González Paz and generally good acting from all the cast. Music is obtrusive at times.
Director Torre Nilsson's career spanned 30 years and includes 35 titles. His movies ran the gamut from mainstream entertainment fare to edgy, experimental works. Graciela was the first movie where he showed the beginnings of a personal style, and won for him the "Best Director of the Year" award from the Institute of Argentine Cinema.
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