(Chile 2012 80m) Aula Magna UACh
p Bruno Bettati d/w Matías Cruz c Mirko Zlatar ed Soledad Salfate
a Eduardo Fernández, Diego Boggioni, Mauricio Vaca, Miguel Tapia
Being the film that kickstarts the biggest south american film festival is a task that not many can take for granted, the expectations and the overall pressure towards the filmmaker, the producers and even the actors if they ever grace the public with their presence at the initial screening. Even if I missed the World Premiere the first day of the festival, I did catch up with it the final day of the festival in a semi-full house at the Aula Magna of the UACh, and as I saw it, I made myself clear as to why this film was chosen to open the fest. Before I forget it, I’m doing this review now because the film just premiered last thursday in chilean cinemas, let’s see how it does in this country’s box office. Now, this film is a biopic of sorts about one of the best and most famous rock bands in the history of chilean music, and I’m, of course, talking about ‘Los Prisioneros’, a band that manages to mix the influences from The Beatles, The Clash, punk, pop and hard rock, giving us a raw sound that actually was appropiate to the events that were happening during the 80’s in Chile, one of those decades that are underconsidered in regards of culture and arts, but that in the case of Chile and Latin America in general, gave us the most important moments of its music, specifically rock music, in its entire history of this modern kind of tune.
This is ‘Los Prisioneros’ before ‘Los Prisioneros’, we see an origin story, something almost clichéd about the birth and growth of any other band from any other place in the world: musical influences (it is incredible the amount of songs from great bands that can be heard in the soundtrack of this film), political sorroundings, social conundrums, family matters, love interests, everything that has been made a staple by the stablishment on how to tell the story about a group that becomes a known entity in the history of the music of a certain era, country or the world. Nevertheless, the film itself isn’t a story of ‘from rags to riches’, as the film knows where to start and when to stop, as it ends with the first time they play in front of an audience, and we don’t even see the performance, because the script and directing decission of not showing us how the showmanship of the band came to be, we just get to say to ourselves: ‘and the rest is history’. But damn, it would’ve been cool to see these three young actors jam and rock around to the early tunes of the makers of one of the strongest generational hymns of all time, ‘La Voz de los 80’. The film works in black and white, for the most part, because it maintains a sense of how this isn’t really a film about the band but about three kids and their dreams, which would be in colour. Nevertheless, the black and white is such an opportunity to have certain lighting and framing experiments, but I guess this is a post-conversion black and white, so it turns into a nifty decission but not one of aesthetics.
The acting in the movie is mediocre at best, but the moments that are emotional maintain their tone thanks to certain supporting performances that bring some kind of reality to the whole subject, as if real emotions and not characters are in motion, even though there are certain questions towards the veracity of the facts presented here, specially about the situation in their neighborhood of San Miguel and the relationship between the three members of the band (specially towards the end, where a rivalry that is present today is presented as fact as early as the first big show they are going to play in, giving its time for the suspicion towards the reality of the scenes put there). Nevertheless, it’s fun to listen one and another time the simple and yet fun song that is ‘Quién mató a Marylin’ with its repetitive lyrics and simple composition, its punk with a dash of pop thrown in for good measure, and I guess that is the highest thing you can say about the music of ‘Los Prisioneros’, it is born out of influence and inspiration. The film is far from being perfect, but I still think that it’s a good time as long as people don’t go out thinking that all you see here is facts by the guy who inspired and tells us the story: band member Miguel Tapia.