Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
Original title: La Mirada Invisible
Argentina/France/Spain, 2010. El Campo Cine, MMM Film Zimmermann & Co., Agat Films & Cie, Factor RH Producciones, Mediagrama. Screenplay by Diego Lerman, Maria Meira, based on the novel Ciencias Morales by Martín Kohan. Cinematography by Alvaro Gutierrez. Produced by Nicolas Avruj. Music by Jose Villalobos. Production Design by Yamila Fontan. Costume Design by Sandra Fink. Film Editing by Alberto Ponce.
There seem to be a whole heck of a lot of films coming from Argentina lately that are preoccupied with examining a super-subtle level of social realism, many set in the era of the dictatorship. Lucrecia Martel, Ariel Rotter and now Diego Lerman’s probing drama are practically becoming a genre, though no one’s complaining while they’re this good. Julieta Zylberberg is excellent as a prefect in an extremely strict boarding school near the end of the dictatorship’s reign, who occupies an interesting position at her place of employment: ensuring that students are always well behaved, properly dressed and timely, she commands a lot of authority but she gets little respect. Her burgeoning physical obsession with one male student leads her to start spying on the boys in the lavatory, under the pretext of wanting to catch them illicitly smoking, and from this we begin to realize that she is as severely sexually repressed as she is a stickler for a job well done. From here the film threatens to get really purple as it veers into obvious symbolism, with Zylberberg the icon of the populace under the dictatorship and the film’s explosive conclusion its inevitable result. The ripeness of this allegory never becomes overstated, however, and doesn’t keep the film from being a very well directed, extremely well acted drama that captivates.