In September1973, in Chile, the American journalist Charles Horman arrives in Valparaiso with his friend Terry Simon to meet his wife Beth and bring her back to New York with him. However, they are surprised by the military coup d'état sponsored by the US Government to replace President Salvador Allende and Charles is arrested by the military force. His father Ed Horman, a conservative businessman from New York, arrives in Chile to seek out his missing son with Beth. He goes to the American Consulate to meet the Consul that promises the best efforts to find Charles while the skeptical Beth does not trust on the word of the American authorities. The nationalism and confidence of Ed in his government changes when he finds the truth about what happened with his beloved son.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
According to Hal Erickson at Allmovie, "in spite of (or perhaps because of) condemnation from certain high-ranking officials in the Reagan administration, the film went on to win an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay". See more »
When the consular guide picks up Ed and Beth at the Christian Science Reading Room for their tour of the hospitals, it is pouring rain. They use umbrellas before getting into the car, but as they drive off the driver's window is rolled halfway down and he isn't getting wet. See more »
Believe us, sir. Your son is not what they told you.
How do you know that, Silvio?
He's a nice guy. He's sincere. A hard worker. But he's a political neophyte. He's terrified of violence.
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Simply,Costa-Gavras's American movies (this one,Betrayed(1987) and "music box" (1990))are better than his French works(compartiments tueurs(1965),Z(1969),l'aveu(1970),etc).Whatever you may think of "Z",the art of Costa -Gavras is efficient but a bit cold and deprived of emotion.This is a perfect dissection of a political assassination,complete with investigation and suspense.But the characters are reduced to stereotypes,particularly when they are played by overrated Yves Montand.
In his American works,while continuing his militant way,Costa-Gavras puts men and women made of flesh and blood on the screen:Jack Lemmon,who made us laugh so many times in Billy Wilder's masterpieces("some like it hot" "kiss me stupid" "the apartment",the highly underrated "Avanti"),shines in his dramatic part;his portrayal of an all-American man,proud of his country,who cannot really understand the evolution of the new generations but who knows that he's got only one son,whom he might never see again,is mind-boggling:his tired and sad face,always seeming on the verge of tears ,mainly in the second half of the movie which contains two classic scenes:
-The first one takes place in the stadium,where the prisoners are gathered;he's given a mike ,but a lump comes to his throat and he hands it to Sissi Spacek -who plays (with talent) the missing son's wife -;In the giant stadium,no echoes ,even when Lemmon,in a desperate call,asks his son to come home.
-The second one takes place in some kind of morgue,where dead bodies pile up.The wife and the father really go to hell,in this almost unbearable scene.
The Putsch (Costa-Gavras takes the American intervention for granted whereas there's nothing that proves it)takes a back seat to the desperate couple's plight.
Costa-Gavras has not completely forsaken France though:the book Spacek and Shea are reading is none other than Saint-Exupery's "le petit prince".
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