Wakolda – A tacit look at Nazi immorality

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MOVIE REVIEW

Wakolda
Historias Cinematograficas Cinemania, Cine.Ar
93 Min
2.35:1
UK Release: 30th May, 2014

DIR Lucia Puenzo
PROD Gudny Hummelvoll, Jose Maria Morales, Lucia Puenzo, Fabienne Vonier
SCR Lucia Puenzo
DP Nicolas Puenzo
CAST Natalia Oreiro, Diego Peretti, Alex Brendemuhl, Elena Roger, Florencia Bado, Alan Daicz, Guillermo Pfening.

Lucia Penzo hasn’t showed signs of slowing down since her debut feature, XXY, won the Grand Priz of critics’ week in 2007. Her 3rd feature, Wakolda, is beautifully shot against the backdrop of Patagonia in 1960, where an intense Nazi biologist seeks out a prototypical Argentinian family who reawaken his forbidden obsession with purity and perfection. It’s a chilling premise that touches upon the near unspoken.

Alex Brendemuhl, who plays the deadly doctor, evolves into a highly unsettling character. It is in this way that Puenzo, effectively and humanely, permits her dramas to evolve deeper. The film slowly builds on the arrival of new characters, all of which are viewed with absolute suspicion and they are fascinating to watch.

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The story is actually based on a book written by Puenzo, largely around rumors of the infamous doctor, Josef Mengele, located in the remote Argentine region of Bariloche. Mengele meets a family who are setting up a hotel on the nearby lake; he takes an intriguing fascination over their daughter, bullied for her diminutive figure (the daughter is played wonderfully by first-timer Florencia Bado). This is a fantasy reborn for Mengele, even more so when he discovers the wife of the family is having twins. Nicolas Puenzo, the cinematographer, offers us some breathtaking shots of these newborn babies who cry and cuddle their mother. Not to mention, his seamless camerawork, which adds beauty and intrigue to every scene.

The finale could, perhaps, have been stronger. The script ends on a revelation for the characters that was already quite clear to the audience. However, Puenzo favours subtlety and I found this air of mystery and darkness rather welcoming.

4/5 stars.

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