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'Machuca' Movie & 'The Other Side of the Street': Chile Political Chaos & 'Rear Window' Meets 'L'Avventura'

Machuca movie with Matias Quer: Andres Wood sociopolitical and coming-of-age drama mix with stellar central performanceMachuca movie with Matías Quer. Andrés Wood's sociopolitical and coming-of-age drama mix features a stellar central performance by Matías Quer as the well-to-do white boy whose life in Santiago is radically changed once he is exposed to Chile's “other side of the tracks” while the country is engulfed in a right-wing military coup.

'Machuca' movie: Personal & political realms intertwine in effective Chilean coming-of-age drama

Set in Chile around the time of the U.S.-backed military coup that deposed popularly elected president Salvador Allende and imposed Augusto Pinochet's long-lasting, far-right dictatorship, director and co-screenwriter Andrés Wood's Machuca is a generally well-made, at times moving depiction of a complex historical period as seen through the eyes of three pre-adolescents from different social classes.

Despite an excessive use of hip sounds from the 1970s that tend to be more distracting than mood-enhancing, Wood does manage to capture the feel of early '70s Chile, especially in the street scenes. Besides, he and fellow screenwriters Roberto Brodsky and Mamoun Hassan expertly convey the intricate but inexorable links between the sociopolitical and the personal realms.

As a plus, Andrés Wood has a solid grip on his capable cast, eliciting several outstanding performances, particularly from the film's three young leads: freckle-faced, well-to-do white boy Matías Quer, whose life is changed after he discovers Chile's “other side of the tracks”; his friend and romantic interest Manuela Martelli; and, in the title role as the school's lower-class, ethnically mixed odd boy out, Ariel Mateluna.

Just as flawless is Aline Küppenheim as Quer's youthful – and adulterous – mother.

Pro-military censorship in Chile

At the 2004 edition of Los Angeles' AFI FEST, Andrés Wood stated that Chilean law prohibited the negative portrayal of that country's military on screen. Wood added that no one had come after him because of Machuca, which presents the Chilean armed forces in a highly unflattering light.

Yet some right-wing Chileans have accused the filmmaker and his film of distorting history.

Chile's submission for the 2005 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award, Machuca has been nominated for the 2005 Spanish Film Academy's Goya Award in the Best Spanish-Language Foreign Film category.

Machuca (2004)

Dir.: Andrés Wood.

Scr.: Andrés Wood. Roberto Brodsky. Mamoun Hassan.

Cast: Matías Quer. Ariel Mateluna. Manuela Martelli. Aline Küppenheim. Ernesto Malbran. Tamara Acosta. Francisco Reyes.

The Other Side of the Street Fernanda Montenegro: one-woman neighborhood watch film reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear WindowThe Other Side of the Street with Fernanda Montenegro. Marcos Bernstein's drama about a one-woman neighborhood watch in Rio de Janeiro is reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, with Central Station star and Best Actress Oscar nominee Fernanda Montenegro in the old James Stewart role. The twist: like Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Avventura, whether or not the mystery is solved is less important than the relationship between the two leads, senior-citizen spy Montenegro and suspected murderer Raul Cortez.

'The Other Side of the Street': Fernanda Montenegro in Brazilian 'Rear Window' of sorts

As in the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock thriller Rear Window, the amateur sleuth in Marcos Bernstein's feature-film debut, The Other Side of the Street / O Outro Lado da Rua, believes she has witnessed a murder while spying with binoculars on a neighbor.

In Rear Window, wheelchair-bound voyeur James Stewart has trouble convincing girlfriend Grace Kelly that he has indeed seen Raymond Burr kill his wife. In The Other Side of the Street, we are all left wondering: has Fernanda Montenegro truly seen a man kill his wife, or has it all been just a figment of the imagination of a lonely, embittered older woman?

Unlike Hitchcock, Bernstein (co-writer of Walter Salles' 1998 Best Foreign Language Film nominee Central Station) is less preoccupied with the alleged murder than with the psychological and emotional workings of the two protagonists: a widower (Raul Cortez) who may or may not have killed his ailing (and wealthy) wife and the lonely divorcée (Fernanda Montenegro) who spends much of her time as a senior-citizen spy for the Rio de Janeiro police.

Bernstein, who co-wrote the screenplay of The Other Side of the Street with Melanie Dimantas, treats his characters with an incisive but compassionate eye, and his direction is for the most part remarkably assured. Missing from this psychological drama, however, is the melancholy atmosphere essential for a tale about longing and loneliness.

One-woman neighborhood watch Fernanda Montenegro

Even so, The Other Side of the Street is well worth watching for its straightforward handling of the problems of aging and alienation in our ever more impersonal world, and for the presence of Brazil's Grande Dame of stage and television, Best Actress Academy Award nominee Fernanda Montenegro (Central Station), who delivers a strong – if at times a tad calculated – performance as the elderly woman in search of a sense of self.

The Other Side of the Street / O Outro Lado da Rua (2004)

Dir.: Marcos Bernstein.

Scr.: Marcos Bernstein. Melanie Dimantas.

Cast: Fernanda Montenegro. Raul Cortez. Laura Cardoso. Luiz Carlos Persy. Miguel Lunardi. Caio Ramos. Eliana César.

 

Machuca and The Other Side of the Street reviewed at the 2004 AFI FEST.

Machuca movie cast info via the IMDb.

The Other Side of the Street movie cast info via the IMDb.

Matías Quer Machuca movie image: Menemsha Entertainment.

Fernanda Montenegro The Other Side of the Street image: Passaro Films.


         
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2 Comments to 'Machuca' Movie & 'The Other Side of the Street': Chile Political Chaos & 'Rear Window' Meets 'L'Avventura'

  1. fpealvarez

    Boring movie. It's like a socialism spot. Militia are bad-bad guys. Socialists and commies are white doves, martyrs of the dictatorship!

  2. Carolina

    Matías te amo!!!!!!!!!
    Te adoro!!!!!!