Machuca!

I haven’t been to a European film festival in a while, so it was with some excitement that I went to Greenbelt 3 with my girlfriend to watch the Peliculas! film fest. We got to watch the Chilean(?) film Machuca, which tells the tale of two boys in 1973 Chile, a time of revolution and uproar as the Chilean right were looking to overthrow then socialist president Salvador Allende.

Pedro Machuca is a young Chilean boy from the lower classes who is allowed into an exclusive Christian school where Gonzalo Infante studies. Gonzalo is a withdrawn, affluent middle class child who has to bear with his mother’s infidelities and the fact that he looks like an even more retarded version of Ron Weasley. They become friends after being the butt of a joke played by Draco Malfoy (if you get to watch if you’ll understand what I mean). Their budding friendship is a metaphor for the social upheaval occuring in Chile during the time, but this is never forced or apparent, and for a while you can imagine that you’re just watching a buddy movie, a “country mouse meets city mouse” kind of schtick. The movie slowly starts to unravel towards the end however, as the ties of friendship are slowly unbound by the sheer difference in their respective worlds. This comes to a boiling point in one scene of the film, when the military storm the shantytown that Pedro lives in, and Gonzalo must decide where his loyalties lie.

To be honest, I wasn’t too ecstatic about this film. It was masterfully crafted and I never once felt bored or manipulated by it, but I never really felt attached to the story of Pedro and Gonzalo. In fact, I was more interested in the story of father McEnroe, the liberal headmaster of the school that both the boys go to. Not that this isn’t a good movie mind you, I’d still suggest you watch it.

The biggest takeaway for me had less to do with the movie and more to do with wanting to research the history of that time period, which I promptly did. It’s kind of ironic that towards the end of the movie, they deposed Allende (the first democratically elected socialist/marxist leader) for fear that he would turn Chile into a Cuban style dictatorship, and they ended up with Augusto Pinochet, a dictator who ruled Chile until 1990.

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