Imagining Argentina

  • 2003
  • Movie
  • R
  • Drama

Respected playwright and screenwriter Christopher Hampton bites off more than he can chew with his first directing gig, a supernatural-tinged drama set against the backdrop of Argentina's notorious "Dirty War" (1976-1983). Outspoken Cecilia Rueda (Emma Thompson) writes articles denouncing the oppressive regime while her husband, Carlos Rueda (Antonio...read more

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Reviewed by Robert Pardi
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Respected playwright and screenwriter Christopher Hampton bites off more than he can chew with his first directing gig, a supernatural-tinged drama set against the backdrop of Argentina's notorious "Dirty War" (1976-1983).

Outspoken Cecilia Rueda (Emma Thompson) writes articles denouncing the oppressive regime while her husband, Carlos Rueda (Antonio Banderas), runs his national children’s theater and buries his head in the sand. Cecelia is especially moved by the plight of the mothers demonstrating in the Plaza De Mayo, and she makes a point of calling attention to the "disappearance" of anyone who criticizes the government. Before long, a squadron sweeps up Cecilia to muffle her protests. Although rumors about detainment centers and prison camps have been swirling around him for ages, Carlos blinded himself to their personal significance; now he futilely seeks information from the very officers who ordered Cecilia’s arrest. For a time, the powers that be tolerate Carlos’ public forums with fellow victims. But Carlos develops a sixth sense about the missing, and his psychic ability to sense who'd dead or alive makes him a high-profile public figure and, therefore, a threat to the dictatorship. In addition to shuttering his theater and rounding up his associates, government thugs kidnap Carlos’s teenaged daughter, Teresa (Leticia Dolera), who winds up in the same hell-hole as her mother. Carlos scours the countryside for his family, along the way crossing paths with a group of Jewish refugees, who draw parallels between the Nazis and the Argentine Military. While Cecilia, a born survivor, isn't waiting for Carlos to save her, he must use his psychic powers to rescue the less resilient Teresa.

Lawrence Thornton's source novel mixes real life horror with a trendy interest in the supernatural, and while the combination is clever it also risks trivializing the devastating human rights abuses that occurred during the seven-year military dictatorship that spawned the "los desaparecidos".

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  • Released: 2003
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Respected playwright and screenwriter Christopher Hampton bites off more than he can chew with his first directing gig, a supernatural-tinged drama set against the backdrop of Argentina's notorious "Dirty War" (1976-1983). Outspoken Cecilia Rueda (Emma… (more)

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