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  •  REVIEW: MACHUCA

    Machuca

    Fortunate son

    "Machuca" looks at the swirl of events leading up to Chile's 1973 coup through the eyes of a privileged youngster and the poor Indian boy who becomes his friend.

    By MARIANA CARRE–O KING
    Offoffoff.com

    Chile's official entry for Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award, "Machuca" is a coming-of-age drama set against the political and civil turmoil that resulted in Chile's military coup and the assassination of then-President Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973.

      
    MACHUCA
    Directed by: AndrŽs Wood.
    Written by: Mamoun Hassan, AndrŽs Wood.
    Cast: Mat’as Quer, Ariel Mateluna, Manuela Martelli, Aline KŸppenheim, Ernesto Malbran, Tamara Acosta, Francisco Reyes, Alejandro Trejo.
    Cinematography: Miguel Joan Littin M..
    Edited by: Fernando Pardo.
    In Spanish with English subtitles.

    Related links: Official site
     SCHEDULE
    Film Forum 209 West Houston St. (between 6th and 7th Ave.) (212) 727-8100

     RELATED ARTICLES
    Philadelphia Film Festival 2005
    • Overview

    • Official festival site

    Reviews:
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    • Evilenko
    • Frozen

    • Machuca
    • Or (My Treasure)
    • Winter Solstice
    • Woman Is the Future of Man
    "Machuca" tells the story of 11-year-old, middle class, Gonzalo Infante (Matías Quer) and the friendship he develops with Pedro Machuca (Ariel Mateluna) and his precocious neighbor, Silvana (Manuela Martelli), who live in a nearby shanty town. Gonzalo is an introverted child, whose dysfunctional family includes an unfaithful mother, a bland father, a party-crazy sister and her obnoxious boyfriend. Machuca (as Pedro is called), is a street-smart and loyal boy who lives with his mother and drunken father in severe poverty. Gonzalo and Machuca meet at the prestigious St. Patrick's English School for Boys, which Gonzalo attends, when the school principal, Father McEnroe, grants scholarships to several children from the shanty town; one of these children is Machuca.

    Machuca  
    After school, Machuca works with his neighbors, Silvana and Willi (Alexander Trejo), selling cigarettes and flags in street demonstrations supporting different political and social causes. Gonzalo soon volunteers to help them. At these rallies, the dissimilarity between the boys' social classes is evident. As when Gonzalo doesn't understand the lingo in pro-Allende slogans, or when Silvana gets into a fight with Gonzalo's mother in a demonstration to protest Allende's policies.

    The boys' different social and economical backgrounds, as well as their families' political affiliations, provide the film's backbone. Machuca and Gonzalo experience what it is like to be on each side of the economical divide. Machuca marvels at Gonzalo's Adidas, a gift from his mother's older lover; Gonzalo uses a rudimentary latrine for the first time outside Gonzalo's shack. Silvana, a little older than the boys, plays a pivotal role in the boys friendship, instigating jealousy as well as alliances between them, and constantly teasing Gonzalo about his high-class background. Silvana also teaches the boys how to kiss, and these scenes are very sweet (literally — there is condensed milk involved). The three young actors play their roles with such vulnerability and freshness that is both beautiful and heartbreaking to watch.

      Machuca
    Picturing the two sides of the political and economical divide through the children's eyes is effective, and the boys' struggle to maintain their friendship is always honest. However, some scenes where the adults are confronted with the same issues fail to achieve the same level of honesty, such as when parents meet to discuss the school's policy regarding the scholarships for poor children, which some parents fiercely oppose, or the street rally to protest Allende's socialist policies, in which some demonstrators seem to be more concerned with their makeup than the country's political future. In both instances, the adult characters seem cartoonish and overrehearsed.

    Director AndrŽs Wood allows the young characters to develop and grow at their own pace during the months and days approaching the military coup. When the coup finally arrives, it affects the young characters in excruciatingly different ways.

    There are few — if any — fictionalized accounts of Chile's coup or the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet; "Machuca" is a welcome and daring effort to dramatize those years. This is especially relevant given the new turn of events concerning the 89-year-old former dictator. Last December, a Chilean judge deemed Pinochet fit to stand trial for human-rights abuses, kidnappings, murder and, more recently, corruption, a major victory for the victims of his dictatorship. The country remains bitterly divided, but projects such as "Machuca" can help to further the dialogue and heal old wounds.

    JANUARY 19, 2005
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK


    Reader comments on Machuca:

  • Machuca   from EsmŽe Cromie Bellalta, Apr 12, 2005
  • Re: Machuca   from pablo montero bellalta, Mar 16, 2006
  • Re: Machuca   from Tony, Mar 21, 2007
  • to the pablo   from Daymond, Sep 13, 2008
  • Machuca   from Jessie, Apr 24, 2005
  • Re: Machuca   from Pete Watson, Oct 7, 2006
  • Re: Machuca   from Granny P, Oct 15, 2006
  • about the movie machuca   from Alicia Viardot, Nov 19, 2005
  • [no subject]   from Ingrid, Feb 17, 2006
  • QUESTION   from MARIO, Jan 14, 2007
  • Re: QUESTION   from kathie, Feb 10, 2008
  • i love...   from mierda, Mar 4, 2009
  • is there a dvd of "machuca"?   from annemarie barnes, Aug 1, 2010
  • Re: is there a dvd of "machuca"?   from Uzziel, Sep 11, 2010

  • Post a comment on "Machuca"