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  • Jennifer Green

Review: "Argentina, 1985"

Argentina’s nominee to this year’s International Feature Film Oscar, currently streaming on Amazon Prime, is an emotional tour-de-force, a film based on historical events whose dramatic tale is punctuated by both moments of humor and details of horrific human rights abuses that took place under that country’s military dictatorship and so-called “Dirty War,” between 1976 and 1983. The film is about the landmark trial that prosecuted the former president and military leaders for those abuses, ensuring democracy in Argentina.


Cinema has a long tradition of powerful courtroom dramas, and Argentina, 1985 pays homage to that with its cast of memorable officials and witnesses, its minutely recreated period details (including shooting in the actual courtroom where the trial took place) and a climactic scene featuring the rousing closing arguments of the prosecutor, Julio César Strassera (played by veteran Ricardo Darín), who rocketed to national fame during this case but also received death threats.

But many of the film’s best moments happen outside the courtroom, and often inside the Strassera household. Director Santiago Mitre and co-writer Mariano Llinás have crafted a thoughtful script that features complex character relationships in addition to a recreation of the events that transpired.


In an opening scene, Strassera tails his teenage daughter and her boyfriend home then grills his son, who he has charged with spying on her, about where the couple went. At this point, Strassera’s no-nonsense wife (a fabulous Alejandra Flechner) steps in to reprimand son – and especially father – for their meddling.


It’s quite a funny sequence that gives us clues about the prosecutor’s political and personal concerns, his deep but never cuddly affection for his family, his wife’s role in constantly challenging him, his daughter’s precocious independence, and his son’s equally precocious role as his dad’s confidante and disciple. All of these facets are woven into key moments in the film later as well, demonstrating the attention dedicated to telling the stories of the people behind the events.


The son’s watching eyes offer a perspective on how Strassera’s work impacted those around him as well as Argentineans who came of age when these historic events unfolded in the mid-1980s...

 

Read the full review at AWFJ.org.

Images courtesy of Amazon Prime Video.

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