Wednesday, 31 May 2023

Argentina, 1985 [2022]

 Argentina was no different vis-à-vis most other South/Central American countries when it came to experiencing repressive right-wing dictatorships during the 20th century (usually helmed by military junta, oftentimes sponsored/aided by the US, and always supported by the upper/middle classes and social/political conservatives) – though, the one it faced from 1976 to 1983, was especially ghastly –; however, in what made it a relative rarity, it tried the perpetrators in a civilian court of law, and that too very soon after the armed forces relinquished its illegitimate powers, which meant that the scorching memories of the state-sponsored violence were still fresh. Argentina, 1985 – reminiscent of Larraín’s No, in how both films vividly evoked momentous events through straight-up storytelling laced with thematic seriousness and stylistic levity, and Guzmán’s The Pinochet Case in highlighting dogged lawyers who dared to bring criminal state heads to account – chronicled the ‘Trial of the Juntas’. The film’s two primary protagonists were the middle-aged public prosecutor Julio César Strassera (Ricardo Darín), and his fiercely committed deputy Luis Moreno Ocampo (Peter Lanzani), who – along with a group of idealistic assistants and defying threats to their personal well-being – led the high-profile trial against Jorge Videla and his top-level cohorts, in defiance of collaborators, apologists, careerists and fanatics. But its protagonists, in equal measures, were also those who courageously took the stands and recounted their gut-wrenching stories of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, custodial rapes and torture, including the human rights activist Adriana Calvo (Laura Paredes), among many others. While the film’s glossy treatment and attempts at wry humour felt distracting at times, the solemnity of its matter which was addressed head-on, aided by committed performances, made it an undeniably necessary work.

Director: Santiago Mitre

Genre: Drama/Legal Drama/Historical Drama

Language: Spanish

Country: Argentina

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