CHILE ’76 – Movie Review

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Chile ’76 is a powerful political thriller. This first feature by actor-turned-director Manuela Martelli, who also co-wrote the script with Alejandra Moffat, is set in the atmosphere of dread that swept over Chile during the 1970s as the repressive measures of the Pinochet dictatorship became harsher and harsher day by day.

The compelling story centers on the political awakening of Carmen, an upper class a-political Chilean woman, the wife of a well-known physician, whose daily live revolves around family gatherings. shopping and lunching with friends. Carmen is asked in private by a priest to care for a young resistance activist who has been seriously injured and is in hiding. She agrees to do so out of the goodness of her heart. While she is saving the young man from death, she learns more about the horrors perpetrated by the Pinochet government and she becomes politicized. Ands, then she then agrees to play a part in the dangerous mission of trying to rescue the young man to a safe location.

As the tale unfolds, Carmen is challenged to balance the secret risk and required intrigue of her new clandestine activism with the normal enjoyment of family and friends gettogethers at her newly redesigned vacation home. Her inner turmoil, quiet anguish and ever present fear are brilliantly and precisely underscored by incidental scenic details — such as the police retrieving the body of a murdered young woman (presumably a member of the resistance) recently washed ashore on the beach where Carmen has brought her grandchildren to swim.

Martelli’s storytelling is enriched with this sort of cinematic detail throughout the film, beginning with the stunningly foreboding and immediately engaging opening sequence in which Carmen’s shopping for a customized color of paint for her vacation home is interrupted by shouts heard from the street where a woman (presumably an activist) is being hauled off by authorities. When Carmen exits the store, she finds one of the woman’s shoes under the dashboard of her car.

Martelli masterfully succeeds in capturing the violence of the times without splashing blood and brutality across the screen. Her intention is effectively reflected in Aline Kuppenheim’s quietly devastating performance as Carmen, whose political awakening is remarkably relatable.


Title: Chile ’76

Director: Manuela Martelli

Release Date: April 5, 2023

Running Time: 100 minutes

Language: Spanish with English subtitles

Screenwriters: Manuela Martelli and Alejandra Moffat

Distribution Company: Kino Lorber

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