Chilean Cinema 2013 #20: La última estación (2012)

(Chile 2012 90m) GAM

p Catalina Vergara d/ed Cristián Soto, Catalina Vergara c Cristián Soto

The main problem with promoting national cinema, the movies either from your local city or country (in this case) is that you feel bad when you review films that fail at what they set out to do, specially when they turn out to be mediocre products that you want to like but in the end become snore fests that you can’t understand how are making rounds at the critics course by being called the best thing since sliced bread. This is what happens with this particular documentary, and it’s a shame that I’ve repeated way too many times that I think that chilean cinema should only be for documentaries, when this particular film isn’t what chilean filmmakers should be doing… at least, not make a feature length film… and specially not a 90 minute film that seems to be a torture that never seems to end. Following a recent trend in cinema with films like ‘Amour’ (2012) and others, this documentary takes a hard look at the old age, in particular to the old people who end up in foster houses that seems to be only the last station (hence the name of the movie) before their deaths. It’s easy to have an opinion on these places: they’re awful, and it’s the same opinion that the movie has, with silent shots of accumulation of old people with nothing to do and speaking next to zero words between them (with a few exceptions) the movie doesn’t break any new ground at all in terms of reflection or showing us new things. It wants to be an observational exercise of the documentary kind, but it fails in many levels just because first it shows you nothing that you didn’t know already, specially if you’ve visited one of those places yourself, a thing that I had the awful deed to do a few times when I was younger.

The movie seems to aim to a visual style that aims to please the academic viewer, with well-composed shots, with a sound design that is practically flawless, but all of that is inert when what we see in the screen is something we’ve seen, we know and that we can’t stand watching anymore. It’s not like when we’re watching ‘Salo’ (1976), where what we see is well-composed and gorgeous at times, but also it’s something that we can’t stand watching anymore, but the difference here is that we’re seeing things that we’ve never seen before (if we are… you know, actual human beings). Here the situations are mostly uninteresting and unatractive, which doesn’t help when the images turn inatractive as well (there are times where we see pure darkness with no content or texture whatsoever, a dead frame just for the sake of having one in the middle, as if it was actually cool to have one of those). There are few elements of interest, one of the most important is the fact that there is a radio inside of this particular house of rest, where an old man puts sounds of the nature for the silent and still audience to hear, he always speaks in smart and sounding words, with elements of style that makes them richer and beautiful to hear, but his existence is small and I’m sure he’d make a much more interesting documentary (it is kinda hinted that maybe at a particular time he was the main subject of the film, but that is quickly abandoned to focus on less interesting elements of the ambience there… why?). It’s a shame, really, to see this documentary being wasted by non-smart decissions that were concious and aimed at a particular style that never truly works except for the times where it finds one or two interesting subjects, but that just doesn’t cut it.

6/10

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