It is still Tuesday but we at Popcorn Reviewss wish you a very Happy and Prosperous New Year. And what is more is that we have theatrical releases coming up starting today, and we will be getting to them soon. But before that I decided to keep pace with some of the films doing the rounds in the International Circuit. And with that I finished watching the new Spanish film Argentina, 1985 which is Argentina’s official selection to the Academy Awards this year. Pardon my ignorance but before watching the film I knew nothing really about the history of Argentina. And because of my love for culture and history, I was reading about the event on which the film was based on. It was a hard-hitting event following a spine chilling series of crimes which could best be termed as a genocide. With the little background which I wanted, I finished watching Argentina 1985 which is streaming on Amazon Prime. And here are my two cents on it.
Story & Screenplay
Based on true events, Argentina 1985 follows the story of the strategy adopted by two prosecutors to carry out the trial of sentencing the last commanders of the military dictatorship in Argentina. To give you a small perspective(based on what I had read), Argentina was under their military rule till 1983 after which a democracy was adopted. And the then Government had planned go sentence the last commanders who were sentenced finally in 1985. I feel this piece of information is crucial in understanding the crux of the story which is entirely conversational in nature. The screenplsy standing at 140 minutes might seem heavy especially for a subject of this nature but if you are willing to invest in the drama then you would soon discover its brilliance!
The challenge with legal dramas is to what extent do you wish to feed the audience with the relevant information before it starts getting drab. Some of the best legal dramas include The Trial Of The Chicago 7 or even the Hindi series Guilty Minds which struck a fine balance between the written material and the drama in hand. And here I would like to add Argentina 1985 to the list which is nothing short of brilliant. It is not everyday that you get to witness real life dramas which are this compelling in nature.
To first address the elephant in the room – this is a slow burn. And to top it, the narrative style is conversational so the drama is a niche, make no mistake. The focus is entirely on the proceedings with almost no respite throughout and so in turn your focus will be required on the scenes and dialogues to completely get the gist of the proceedings. A good idea would be to read about it(a quick summary has been provided by me in the first paragraph that should help too). But if you are willing to submerge yourself here then there are rewards to be had!
There is almost a layer on tension amidst the uncomfortable conversations that take place in the very first scene. You instantly know that something is amyss where the drama almost unfolds like a spy thriller(please note that it still is a slow burn). Soon you are acquainted with the protagonist and his fight for justice against the authorities. Some of the events could so easily be translated in today’s times in a few countries that might be facing a similar situation currently(if you are well aware of the world politics or the present day scenario).
The conversational nature of the drama helps you to sink your teeth into the drama that does get textured after every passing scene. A thing to note is that this is an uncomfortable watch in parts where some of the lines would make you fidget in your chair. The challenges which the prosecutors face along with the death threats to their lives does keep you on tenterhooks throughout. The drama is interesting and engaging and I found myself completely invested in it. The subtle tones of dry humour is well integrated in the narrative.
The documentary style of narration(where the real life footages are frequently shown) works wonderfully here. The events leading up to the final act are emotionally moving and heartfelt. The 15 minute monologue at the end had so much of pain associated with it, ending with two words “Never Again” which beautifully summed up the entire conversation. The final act is subtly brilliant as well wherein the drama ends on a realistic note but not before providing a lot of hope. Overall, the screenplay is brilliantly penned, probably one of the best for a legal drama this year!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational and wonderfully penned. The lines definitely stir up an impact like no other. The BGM is brilliantly integrated in the drama and adds a lot of flavour to it. The cinematography is brilliant wherein it is constantly able to rile up the tension without actual action taking place. Director Santiago Mitre does a terrific job in every sense of the word. He is able to weave a story aroumd one of the most powerful events of the country which might be personal to so many people(given that it wasn’t long ago that the actual event had transpired). I also enjoyed the focused narrative, not providing the viewers any respite and comstantly demands their attention. In other words, the direction is outstanding here.
The performances are brilliant here. Alejandra Fletchner, Paula Ransenberg and Carlos Portaluppi have their moments to shine. Peter Lanzani as Luis is wonderfully restrained and acts as a great foil for the protagonist. Ricardo Darin as Julio is the life of the film. His pain is veiled by his no nonsense approach in an acting masterclass like no other. All other actors are simply outstanding.
Argentina 1985 is perhaps the best legal drama that I have witnessed all year! Hope it fares well at the Academy Awards this year! Available on Amazon Prime and Highly Highly Highly Recommended!