Mesmerizing film by Diego Lerman that will immerse you into an Argentina 1982 voyage where on the streets of the Argentinean capital people are challenging the military dictatorship but in the very traditional upper class school, that used to be called “Ciencias Morales” (Moral Sciences), everything is perennial calm with days passing by as if nothing is happening. That’s the setting to this story that can be a little disturbing thanks to an excellent inexpressive performance by Julieta Zylberberg that with tiny movements tells more than with words.
Story is sort of metaphor to what happened in March 1982 at Buenos Aires and tells about innocent and naïve Maria Teresa (Zylberberg) a 20-years-old classroom assistant that one of her main duties is to keep intact strict school discipline under the supervision of Mr. Biasutto, the chief classroom assistant, who seems to like and protect her like a father does with a daughter or a teacher with a student, as young Marita –as her family calls her- is relatively new to this job. Mr. Biasutto purpose is to teach Marita how to arrive at what he called “the optimum surveillance point” where nothing is missed and everything is scanned without alarming students. She has to become the invisible eye. But young and lonely Marita notices a student doing something wrong and keeps quiet; he becomes her fixation and wishes to survey him everywhere including at the boys restroom. With Mr. Biasutto’s permission Marita is authorized to investigate students that are allegedly smoking at the boys restroom and what follows is Marita’s downfall which is quite “metaphorical” similar to what happened in Argentina in those days.
You have no idea how tension is very slowly built in this fantastic movie that has mostly superficial everyday school dialogue, many silences and many takes with camera following Marita walking the majestic school building corridors or crossing the patio, the last making breathtaking visual compositions. When story climax arrives you are sort of prepared but still is very disturbing.
I believe that even if you’re not familiar with Argentina history you will enjoy this thrilling drama for just the apparent intense story; but knowing the events will allow you to see the other movie layer. But you will easily get that repression doesn’t achieve the best of results –whether it’s military coup or a young women trying to break free.
Film was official selection at 2010 Cannes in the Quinzaine section and the 2010 San Sebastian festival in the Horizontes Latinos section; this after being the winner in the previous year of the Sundance/NHK International filmmaker and part of Cannes’ Atelier de la Cinefondation. Those are very good credentials that absolutely describe an excellent character driven drama and a great, yet young, filmmaker.
Film is must be seen for those that enjoy Latin America films and for those that like their films to be well-crafted with a look and feel that resembles good European cinema.
Watch Trailer @MOC