Saturday, 7 July 2018

The Colony

This film is about Colonia Dignidad and the fruit-loop in charge, Paul Schafer, made use of by Chile's Pinochet following the military coup on 1973 as a venue for certain unsavoury activities of the secret police. And this part is based in fact, it would seem, going by the real photos which are displayed in the end-credits and basic research conducted. It seems that he had started this community, brought a load of young people over from his native Germany and set up a religious cult in the name of his god and appeared to use the situation to physically, sexually and mentally torture the people under his wing. It's all very unsavoury but lends itself more to a factual documentary, I think than a Hollywood film.

But someone decided to make this film of it which, from the get-go, wavers off from the path of truth and sets up a love-story at the centre of the regime. Maybe it wasn't interesting enough without embellishment, or maybe nothing much really happened there that people had hard facts about. Don't know. More research needed. There's probably documentaries and books out there to educate.

But anyway, back to the love story about a young couple, Lena the European air-stewardess who's in love with another European, Daniel, who's putting his neck out as a political activist against the coup in Chile. Not very brightly, he pushes his luck with the authorities and gets chucked into The Colony and the state entrust his realignment to the fruit-loop. (Not sure why, as the bloke before him got shot dead!) Thereafter, most of the film is set in the colony and depicts how it's run, the methods used to control the inhabitants and the resulting life of servitude and labour that they suffer. The suggestion of sexual abuse of the children who live there is portrayed disturbingly, though not graphically.

But then we switch back to the Love Story and The Great Escape, as our two heroes try to beat the system and break out of the clutches of the evil one, whilst grabbing the odd French kiss or two en-route. There's even a nod to Titanic as they have to swim underwater in a part of the attempt! It all ends up being rather silly, frankly, and could have been much more than this.

Harry Potter's Emma Watson, is, I'm sorry to say, not at all convincing. She doesn't come across physically or psychologically as someone who would try to break a powerful regime down with escape plans and derring-do, leaping across crocodile infested caverns (well, not quite, but you get the picture) or even be brave enough to get involved in the first place! She comes across as far too precious, prim and trim. I think she has some potential as an actor, but this wasn't helping the quest. Daniel Bruhl (Inglourious Basterds, Rush, The Bourne Ultimatum) as Daniel was more convincing, though still a little shallow. It felt as though none of the cast were really trying very hard and it all came across a bit like a made-for-TV outing including the direction, investment in set, costume and photography.

Shame really. It had the potential as a story to be a Papillon or Midnight Express but came out the other end as a bit of a tepid romp. If you must, it's currently available as a part of a NowTV subscription in the UK and no doubt other places too.

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