Post Mortem

Review by Laurence Boyce @LaurenceBoyce

Directed by

Pablo Larraín

Starring

Alfredo Castro Amparo Noguera Antonia Zegers

Anticipation.

Tony Manero showed that Larraín has a precocious talent and made him a director to look out for.

Enjoyment.

This is an often obtuse, disturbing and strange affair but never less than absorbing.

In Retrospect.

A thoughtful and unique film that manages to linger in the mind.

A unique and weird history lesson created by a director whose star is continually on the rise.

After the excellent Tony Manero, Chilean director Pablo Larraín moves into slightly more surreal territory as he takes a story that examines the Chilean military coup of 1973 seen through the prism of an unlikely love story.

Mario Cornejo (Castro) works in a morgue whilst beginning a tentative relationship with cabaret dancer Nancy (Zegers). However the revolutionary events of the outside world throw both their lives into chaos. The morgue becomes inundated with numerous bodies, nameless victims of a battle for which the prize may not be worth winning, whilst Nancy finds herself in the thrall of some of those fighting for a new regime.

This is an evocative work that strips back the noble ideals of revolution to show the terrible price by those caught in the crossfire. Larraín imbues proceedings with a dreamlike air going from one surreal set-piece to another. Scenes such as ones set in the morgue, where piles of bodies form a grotesque tableau or the doctors are forced to conduct the autopsy of one of the Chilean government, manage to disturb as they seem both resolutely realistic yet strangely removed from the everyday. It’s this off-kilter connection between fantasy and authenticity that makes the film both disturbing and absorbing.

Castro – whose slightly odd looks complement the general ambiance of the film – is both excellent and measured as a loner who struggles to comprehend his relationships with other people. His chemistry and interaction with Zegers – who also manages to put on a feisty performance – is compellingly twisted. Their relationship works as a metaphor for the revolution itself – it may have occurred with the best of intentions but the sheer impossibility of it working out will mean that people are hurt along the way.

Published 8 Sep 2011

Tags: Chilean cinema

Anticipation.

Tony Manero showed that Larraín has a precocious talent and made him a director to look out for.

Enjoyment.

This is an often obtuse, disturbing and strange affair but never less than absorbing.

In Retrospect.

A thoughtful and unique film that manages to linger in the mind.

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