Meewella | Critic

According to P

Tag: Pablo Larraín

QuickView: El Conde (2023)

“The trouble is that love dies before the body does.”


The darkly satirical horror of El Conde reimagines Augusto Pinochet as vampire born in Revolutionary France, director Pablo Larraín using the imagery of vampirism not merely to fictionalise but to examine Pinochet’s crimes and his lasting legacy. There are thematic similarities with the legacy crafting in Larraín’s Jackie, exploring an individual’s desires through their performance — Pinochet’s children may attend him because they cling to his wealth, but his focus is how he will be remembered. In justifying his actions, he is presented as a figure of absurd cognitive dissonance: though he squandered Chile’s wealth, he is bitter at being remembered as a thief, and he simultaneously wishes to be revered as an intellectual but excused for his regime’s violent excess as being tricked by those around him. The sombre black and white imagery suits the subject matter, allowing for contrasting extremes of inky blood and white-robed nuns. Larraín opts to use native Spanish for dialogue but a strangely posh English narration that makes sense only once the narrator makes an appearance. This voiceover lays bare Larraín’s intentions behind the vampire allegory, explaining that Pinochet turned people into “heroes of greed”, both leeching and virulent. It is a less subtle approach than other work from Larraín, but the characterful narration serves its purpose and increases the accesssibility of El Conde.


QuickView: Jackie (2016)

Jackie poster

“I lost track somewhere — what was real, what was performance.”

Jackie Kennedy

Jackie is an unusual biopic that seeks to present the woman through a narrow period of just a few weeks, focused almost exclusively on the assassination of JFK and the immediate aftermath, with occasional flashbacks going only so far as her time in the White House. Those hoping for a broader look at her life will be disappointed. Given the private nature of most scenes, it is evident that most of the script is highly speculative which makes it all the stranger that Jackie often struggles to delve beneath its subject’s iconic surface, with emotional resonance coming mostly from Peter Sarsgaard’s portrayal of the supportive, grieving Bobby Kennedy. The film does pose incisive questions about Jackie’s motivations following the assassination: a kind perspective is that she was preserving JFK’s legacy but a less generous one is that, as a student of history, she was seeking to craft that legacy for her husband and for herself. If nothing else she had certainly become a Kennedy.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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