Chilean Cinema 2013 #36: La Chupilca del Diablo (2012)

(Chile 2012 100m) Aula Magna UACh

p Tomás Arriagada, Constanza Cabrera d Ignacio Rodríguez w Ignacio Rodríguez, Matías Jeffs, Constanza Zeballos c Matías Illanes ed Jaime Amunátegui, Ignacio Rodríguez

a Jaime Vadell, Camilo Carmona, Eugenio Morales, Carmen Barros, Roberto Farías

I saw this movie last year, in the Valdivia Film Festival, and I didn’t have time to write a review of it. It was now recently released to theaters and now I have a chance to review it shortly. This is a film that plays with two different styles and momentums of what the future of Chilean cinema could be. There’s an academicism in the quieter moments, where the stillness of the camera and the length of the shots remind you of european or arthouse films, while on the other hand its plot and performances remind you of something much more swift and entertaining, a movie that is actually quite well written at spots, signaling the existence of a real relationship between a grandfather and grandson, in which there are secrets that we don’t know about, stories that they both know and that they never speak about, it’s almost like a familiar language going on, something we all have if not with our grandfathers with other members of your family, and that is never ever dumbed down to the audience, so I think that there’s great value in the plot itself.

Nevertheless, the images of the movie are quite forgettable, as elaborate as the sets are they are for a college project (this is a feature-length film made as the final project of a university by the students on their final year), it still feels quite long at the end, specially when it finds it difficult to find a proper footing from where to start, with the long takes exploring all the places in which the movie will take place. That’s a cliché of the Chilean cinema that should be erradicated, if there’s no need to have the long shots, don’t have them! They are useless if the landscape isn’t interesting or if it adds nothing to the plot or if we already end up knowing the locale through the plot of the movie itself… for a moment it feels as if they were showing off the real aspect of the sets that they built, or the location that they got to film the movie. Maybe that got them some extra credits, but I don’t really need to see that at all, just start with the decent enough plot already.

The movie is about the relationship between a grandfather and his grandson as the later wants to make some money during the summer and the first has a factory that exclusively makes “chupilca del diablo”, a famous drink that was given to the soldiers of Chile in the 19th century that was a mixture of gunpowder and aguardiente, making them crazy and hyped up for the battles to have. The grandfather is making a drink that is called that in his own illegal distilery, all while the business isn’t as good as usual and as there’s a contractor going around the terrain of the factory trying to buy the land, even menacing to denounce him to the police that he is making alcohol without any health regulation. The plot moves along swiftly and you can’t help but love the performance of the granfather by Jaime Vadell, is one of the best in terms of Chilean cinema this year, and one of the most interesting examples that maybe the great cinema won’t come from the government grants or the big publicity stunts, but out of the universities.



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