This Argentine crime film won the Oscar for best foreign language picture last year and, yeah, it’s very, very good. Based on a novel by Eduardo Sacheri, it’s set in 1999 with flashbacks to the ’70′s. It follows a retired federal investigator who writes a novel trying to come to terms with a rape/murder investigation that took place 25 years before.
But it’s about a lot more than that: about the way our passions govern us and about the prisons we build for ourselves and about the nature of justice. The acting (and the makeup!) are so good I couldn’t tell whether the actors were young people playing old people or older people playing young people in the flashbacks. Plus – with the exception of the very last scene, which I found wrongheaded and misplaced – the writing is exceptional.
I’ve never been one of those people who praise foreign films at the expense of American films. Back in the day, foreigners won the raves of eggheads who disdained American cowboy and crime pictures. Now, those Yank genre pictures are the beloved classics imitated by the world while a lot of the foreign stuff is forgotten. But just now, I can’t help feeling that some foreign films, like this one, are more adult somehow than any American films, that they deal with life as it is lived, use actors who look like real people, and face issues both historical and personal no American filmmaker would even begin to understand.
Maybe it’s just a phase of some kind. Or it could be that the lockstep and conformist leftism of so much of our creative class has made them childish and shallow. Nah. Couldn’t be that, could it?