Pablo Larrain | 2008 | 98 min | Chile, Brazil
How bizarre that the TIFF catalog almost makes this film sounds like Chilean Full Monty. I picture many upset people walking out of the theatre after taking a chance on a little comedy about a disco dance troupe in the seventies. On its face the premise does sound like a comedy: a middle-age is obsessed with Saturday Night Fever and John Travolta's character, Tony Manero. He goes to daily screenings, reciting near every line, and stages a dance homage to the movie at a local bar with friends. Funny stuff, right? Except this is all set against the backdrop of Pinochet's violent regime in the seventies and the lead character, Raul, reflects that violence in spades.
Raul is psychotically obsessed with Tony Manero and feels no compunction in killing to obtain whatever tools he feels bring him closer to the man and his "life." Sometimes that means fucking a guy up to collect glass blocks to build a dance floor in his tenement room, sometimes robbing a dead body of Manero-esque jewelry.
I was lucky enough to see this film with zero expectations, and was blown away. The story is compelling and Pablo Larrain has a unique style that works wonderfully here, even often experimenting with out of focus shots in a very impressive fashion. I was unfamiliar with actor Alfredo Castro, but he is truly chilling in the lead role. He pulls off not one, not two, but three of the most disturbing "love" scenes you are likely to ever see. So don't see it for Chilean Full Monty, see it for Chilean Nightmare Source Material (Nihilist sub-folder).