A Twelve-Year Night (2018)


Direction: Alvaro Brechner
Country: Uruguay

The terror of solitary confinement with all its deprivations and consequent psychological effects is extensively depicted in Alvaro Brechner’s A Twelve-Year Night, a haunting account of 12 years of incarceration in the life of Jose Mujica (Antonio de la Torre), the one who, years later, would become the charismatic president of Uruguay, and his two Tupamaro compatriots, Mauricio Rosencof (Chino Darín) and Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro (Alfonso Tort).

In 1973, Uruguay in taken by a military dictatorship. Members of a left-wing guerrilla group known as Tupamaros are considered subversive traitors of the country, being persecuted and destroyed without clemency. Some of them, the ones that couldn’t be annihilated on the spot, were incarcerated and subjected to inhumane treatment over the course of several years. In the case of this trio of heroes, they were targeted in a secret military operation and isolated, although, moving from cell to cell. No one could talk to them just as they were unauthorized to talk to anyone. This was a clear attempt to drive them insane. They couldn't exercise either and sometimes his movements were limited to a small square painted on the floor.

Claustrophobic cells with no toilet or sink were part of the strategy to affect them in the head. Occasionally, out of pity, the soldiers threw them the leftovers of meals with cigarette butts in the mix.


But notwithstanding all these torments, they found a way to communicate with each other by knocking on the walls with their knuckles. They could even play virtual chess this way and keep their brains active. Mujica was the one struggling the most with delusional psychosis and not even his mother’s vehement appeal to resist seemed to work. In turn, Ruso, who was a writer, was granted some perks after helping a sergeant winning his lover’s heart. He was the one writing the love letters. On one of those occasions, the friends had a unique chance to see one another; an exceptionally conceded stretch in the open air.

Regardless of some familiar routines, the hostile atmosphere is depicted with rigor, with the scenes shot at the Montevideo’s Libertad Prison and Pamplona’s Fort San Cristobal - a former correction facility for over a decade - reinforcing that positive attribute. While cells like these continue to exist in many countries, we learn through this description that they should be brought to a close because acts of inhumanity can never win, whatever the circumstances they are perpetrated.

Brechner forgot to expose an important detail: the political background of the characters. Even so, it was hard to take my eyes off the screen.


The Delay (2012)

The Delay (2012)
Directed by: Rodrigo Plá
Country: Uruguay / Mexico / France

Review: After the good results obtained with “Desierto Adentro” e “La Zona”, Uruguayan-born filmmaker living in Mexico Rodrigo Plá, works once again with the screenwriter Laura Santullo. This time the story is set in Montevideo, depicting an obnoxious episode involving Maria, a single mother who works at home for a textile factory to sustain the family, and Augustin, her aged, fragile, and often forgetful father who needs care and attention.  Each day with less time to work due to her father’s condition, Maria is visibly tired and in a verge of a nervous breakdown, trying all the possible ways to get rid of him yet without success. First she tries her sister who refuses to take care of him, and then the social security services but without much hope; that’s when Maria decides to abandon him in a park bench in plain winter. “The Delay” is slow, meticulous, and emotionally strong, depicting the despair and regret of a woman who, in a moment of madness, was capable of a premeditated cruelty with disturbing cold blood. I confess that I was expecting something more from its ending, but the film deals very realistically with the problems of conscience and social gaps in a modern society. The acting by Roxana Blanco and Carlos Vallarino are worth mentioning, while the direction is aesthetically valuable with precise close-ups that easily bring out the weight of the circumstances.

Gigante (2009)

Realizado por: Adrián Biniez
País: Uruguai

Um segurança de um super-mercado começa a interessar-se por uma empregada da limpeza. Tímido por natureza, acaba por ficar obsessivo pela rapariga, perseguindo-a por toda a cidade e tentando obter o máximo de informação sobre esta. O filme é um prólogo para uma história de amor que nunca chegamos a confirmar. Apesar de que poderia ser bem melhor em determinados aspectos, temos de dar-lhe mérito na realização e no argumento, levando em conta que é uma obra de estreia. Filme do circuito independente, vencedor do grande prémio do júri no Festival de Berlim.