Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Official Story

1986 Oscar Winner Best Foreign Langauge Film

Dir: Luis Puenzo (Old Gringo)

Yet another Oscar winner exploring a country's complicity in its own atrocities, this time in Argentina. The wife of a government official suspects that her adopted daughter may by the result of the notorious "disappearances" of that country. The political story is told through its impact on this family, as the wife sheds her willful ignorance and confronts the truth.

The script in this film is really well put together. The pace is slow, and much is left for the audience to discover along the way at well timed moments. Through passing comments and brief encounters, the characters come to the conclusion we all know is inevitable. That allows the writers to be more subtle, and the result is a very intelligent and engaging narrative.

And yet the most important part of this story, the emotional punch of the mother-daughter relationship, I found slightly lacking. And I mean slightly; I did feel for these characters. But I was never moved to the extent that I would consider this a brilliant film. I wonder if there was a trade-off between making the script sparse and making the characters powerful.

I do not mean to imply that the film is bad by any means. It is very technically sound and important in its subject matter. But it falls just short in the most impotant element.