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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Altiplano


I was really looking forward to watch a film that has been called "unusual" because "narrative style combines realism, symbolism, almost mystical lyricism, and strong visual approach with superb cinematography". A mix of documentary and narrative. Alright the movie has all the above plus an intriguing cast with two actresses I've been following, very exotic Magaly Solier and also exotic Jasmin Tabatabai, BUT (and is a big but) I didn't like it!

I find it an absolutely pretentious mix of many styles -some from many of my favorite directors- to tell a tale that's more serious, down-to-earth, simple yet complex, and never a dream (like filmmakers say) as tells something that really happened in Peru. But actually what this film absolutely lacks is great storytelling and great filmmakers, which -in my opinion- both directors and co-writers absolutely are not.

This is the third role where Magaly Solier plays a Quechua and can't be more different to her previous two roles in Madeinusa and La Teta Asustada (The Milk of Sorrow). So different that while watching I think I discovered what was really missing in this movie was a great director and a superb storyteller like -for example- Claudia Llosa that in her movies explores almost same Peruvian mysticism and symbols with realism but she does it with a magical narrative and is able to extract true awesome performances from her actors.

In Altiplano Magaly Solier doesn't have an awesome performance as she looks and feels woody, theatrical, underused and sometimes performing the absurd; the same happens with Jasmin Tabatabi, just add that she's distant and never feels inside her character. True shame that such good actresses were subjected to an underuse of their respective capabilities.

The film tells two stories, one about a small village in Peru where an US company discovers gold, contaminates with mercury the town of Turubamba, and inhabitants start to die. The other about a war photographer (Tabatabi) suffering from depression that loses her Belgian, humanitarian doctor husband to the hands of the Turubamba inhabitants rage against foreigners and leads her to initiate a redemptory journey to the small Peruvian village. The two stories never merge according to me, unless you consider that the "symbiotic/symbolic" merge of Grace and Saturnina makes the story merge at the end. I don't.

I don't recommend this very pretentious film unless you have never seen the beauty of Peruvian (and sometimes thought was the Chilean) Altiplano. But then, you better rent a National Geographic documentary or watch the NatGeo TV channel and will be able to watch the Altiplano beauty without all the nonsense in this film.

The film really upset me for under-using great actresses; but most of all, for so unsuccessfully copying -or trying to copy- styles that belong to great master filmmakers.

Sigh.

Watch trailer (at your own risk) @Movie On Companion

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