SIFF 2023: Chile ’76 (***)

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on May 13, 2023)

Echoes of Graham Greene’s The Honorary Consul permeate this examination of the moral, ethical, and political dilemmas presented by life in a totalitarian society. Set in 1976 during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, actress Manuela Martelli’s debut feature (co-written with Alejandra Garcia) centers on a bourgeois Chilean woman (Aline Küppenheim).

Although she trained as a nurse at med school, she has opted to let her physician husband bring home the bacon. Busying herself by taking care of their luxurious beachfront home and doing volunteer work for her church, she is largely sheltered from the harsh realities of the regime. However, when her priest talks her into helping a wounded rebel, she gets a crash-course in what life is really like for the less fortunate and begins to question her personal priorities. Deliberate pacing and an abrupt, ambiguous dénouement may be trying for some, but the film is well-directed and acted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *