More noise than signal

Post Mortem

This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com

Of all the films what I done have gone and watched and that at the 2011 incarnation of the EIFF, widely held to be something of a damp squib, this is the only film that I felt completely failed at what it was trying to do. As such it was the greatest disappointment, especially given the generally puzzlingly high regard it seems to generally have garnered.

Post Mortem is set in Santiago, 1973, against a background of the impending coup d’Etat that would usher in a brutal rule under a military junta. A civil servant, Mario (Alfredo Castro) working at a morgue, transcribing doctor’s reports, becomes infatuated with a cabaret artist from the theatre across from his house, Nancy (Antonia Zegers). Their peculiar relationship takes a nosedive when she goes missing, along with a great many others, during the coup. Maio tries to track her down while also trying to deal with the sudden massive influx of bodies caused by their new military overlords.

Now, this film falls flat because there only seems to be one character that’s remotely sympathetic or, for that matter, believably human, and she soon gets shot for her troubles. Everyone else, including the two nominal leads, oscillate between creepy and unlikable.

Perhaps there’s something lost in translation here. While the broad strokes are obvious enough, I struggled to get a handle on anyone’s motivations and their actions from scene to scene were often inexplicable. Perhaps I’m just not in touch with the fiery Latin temperament, but I struggled to glean any enjoyment from this at all.

The pacing is way off. If it’s trying to build tension at any point I must have missed it, and my attention wandered so much I had to call out a search and rescue party. The two main plot threads of their relationship and the atrocities committed by the junta seem almost completely separate, and I found myself as disinterested in the film as Mario seems to be in the opening reels of the film with the politics that will soon inconvenience him so.

Does, however, win the prize for the longest single shot ‘building a barricade’ scene, which is surely worth something.

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