Chilean Cinema 2014 #17: Las analfabetas (2013)

Illiterate

(Chile 2013 73m) Cine Hoyts Parque Arauco

p Fernando Bascuñán, Florencia Larrea, Alicia Scherson d Moisés Sepúlveda w Pablo Paredes, Moisés Sepúlveda c Arnaldo Rodríguez ed Rodrigo Fernández s Cristóbal Carvajal

a Paulina García, Valentina Muhr

This review originally appeared at Twitchfilm.com

Paulina García has become one of the most recognizable faces in Chilean cinema around the world, especially after starring in ‘Gloria’ (2013), which had a successful festival and theatrical run in 2013 and 2014.

Now she is the protagonist of this new festival darling that is having a theatrical release in Chile. Garcia stars alongside the young Valentina Muhr, reprising the same roles they had in the play on which this film is based, which is a faithful cinematic adaptation. The bad news is that there’s not much beyond that element.

‘Las analfabetas’ (2013) tells the story of an analphabet middle-aged woman (played by García) who struggles every day with the outside world and her own disability, a thing that has made her shy away from society. Hence the main setting of the film being inside her house — also, evidencing the theater origins of the film — where she at first rejects and then receives the help of her niece, a young woman who has just received her teaching degree. She wants to teach her aunt how to read and write.

The premise of the film is very basic, but the meat and most interesting elements of the movie come from the performance of the two actresses and the dialogues. There are some tense moments and energetic sequences that can leave you speechless, but I was personally underwhelmed by how little was done to this cinematic adaptation of the play. It could have played with more elements, but it mostly remained, even visually, just like a play on film.

In total, there are two scenes that take place outside of the house of Paulina’s character, and they are both variations on the same theme of the difficulties experienced by someone who doesn’t know how to read. They aren’t inherently interesting, as they play more like jokes or funny moments that don’t actually complement the serious tone that the film wants to achieve with the deep dialogue sequences between teacher and student.

It’s somewhat strange for me to see the amount of praise that the film has garnered, as its roots seem too obvious. The film struggles and tries hard for it to not seem like it was just a translation of a powerful and successful play… but then again, it’s just that.

6/10

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