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Cry for them, Argentina

This film, too, is a real-life story that kicks off from the football pitch; but it has even less of a connection with the game than our other DVD of the week.

movie reviews Updated: Apr 21, 2012 00:14 IST

Buenos Aires 1977
Shemaroo, R349
Rating: ***
1/2

This film, too, is a real-life story that kicks off from the football pitch; but it has even less of a connection with the game than our other DVD of the week. A military coup in Argentina overthrew Isabel Perón's government in 1976. Three years after democracy was restored in 1983, the junta was tried for human rights abuses, a first of its kind case in Latin American history. This film is based on the deposition of two witnesses at the historic trial, Claudio Tamburrini and Guillermo Fernández.

Claudio, the goalkeeper of a second division team, is kidnapped by plain-clothed military intelligence operatives. He is detained - blindfolded, handcuffed and beaten up - for the next four months at a foreboding mansion outside Buenos Aires. He gets to know, among other young detainees, the leftist activist who falsely betrayed him to buy time for his comrades. They are all routinely tortured to spill the beans on the guerrillas running an insurgency against the junta. As some of them are taken out, to formal prisons or death squads, a web of mind-games being played among the detainees comes to light. Three-fourths into the film, at the head of 120 days of detention, four of them escape, naked and bloodied, into the night. Their flight, from the town of Moron where they were kept, makes up the tense finale.

Director Adrián Caetano's palette of earthy colours and composer Iván Wyszogrod's haunting tunes stretch the drama. The performances that lift the film above the ordinary are by Rodrigo De la Serna as Claudio and Lautaro Delgado as Gallego, another detainee. They remind us that there's nothing grittier than realism.