Buenos Aires, 1977

Buenos Aires, 1977


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

The untranslated title means 'chronicle of a fugue', and this film presents exactly that – the story of a disassociated dream-like state, the nightmarish tale of a goalkeeper for a minor team abducted and held for months by the ruling junta of Argentina.

The film has a documentary feel, shaky cameras, naturalistic lighting and all. Unsurprising, given that it is based on testimony from the trials of members of the junta and Claudio Tamburrini's autobiographical book 'Pase libre: La Fuga de La Mansion Sera'. Even with the quality of the makeup effects, the sight of the cast emaciated, shaven-headed, heavily bruised, blindfolded, hand-cuffed and naked on frame beds in an empty house is all the more powerful because it is true.

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Buenos Aires, 1977 is harrowing at times, terrifying at others. Several scenes rely heavily on the score and the actors' expressions to convey meaning, but in a context where speaking could lead to beatings, or worse, the lack of speech is all the more powerful.

Rodrigo de la Serna, who accompanied Gael García Bernal in The Motorcycle Diaries, is stunning as Claudio, caught up in the government's attempts to crush rebellion more or less by accident. Opposite him Deigo Alonso turns in a complex portrayal as Lucas, the somewhat kindly gaoler. As the inmates plot their escape, led by Guillermo Fernández (Nazareno Casero), the tension is palpable. A potential escape in the kitchen during an international football match is particularly affecting.

Buenos Aires, 1977 shows a dark episode in Argentina's history, and while we only hear prisoners being electrocuted, and are left to guess at the fate of those prisoners bundled into trucks in the small hours, we are left in no doubt as to what is going on. The kidnappers operate outside the law, and while one character notes that “politics is dirty”, the only consolation in this film is that some form of justice was eventually done.

Reviewed on: 20 Feb 2007
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Buenos Aires, 1977 packshot
A goalkeeper kidnapped and tortured by the Argentinian secret police becomes determined to escape.

Director: Adrián Caetano

Writer: Adrián Caetano, Esteban Student

Starring: Rodrigo De la Serna, Pablo Echarri, Nazareno Casero, Lautaro Delgado, Matías Marmorato, Martín Urruty

Year: 2006

Runtime: 103 minutes

Country: Argentina

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