The Damned | Chicago Reader

The Damned

Rated NR 104 minutes 2009

A fascinating battle between form and content, this 2009 Spanish drama is about historical trauma, but the tone is mellow and open-ended: it's a poem where you'd expect arid prose. A rebel soldier in Argentina's dirty war returns home after decades of exile to help a group of students excavate unmarked graves in the jungle; as it turns out, their professors are former allies of the soldier who suspect that he betrayed them. Director Isaki Lacuesta devotes as much attention to the environment as to the story, and the rain forest emerges as a character, absorbing the effects of atrocity and yielding new life. The best scenes are extended, wordless takes in which the characters perform routine actions--digging, bathing in a river, getting drunk--at a meditative pace. The movie, too, creates a sense of trance, only to break it with dialogue that explains what every character is feeling.

Film Credits

Director: Isaki Lacuesta

Producer: Xavier Atance and David Matamoros

Cast: Bárbara Lennie, Daniel Fanego, Arturo Goetz, Leonor Manso, Nazareno Casero, Maria Fiorentino and Juana Hidalgo

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