Pic exposes the familial and social forces that would drive an 8-year old to embrace the dictatorship.

Set during Pinochet’s reign, “Andres Doesn’t Want to Take a Siesta” exposes the familial and social forces that would drive an 8-year old to embrace the dictatorship. Political coming-to-consciousness pic cleverly casts Norma Aleandro — star of 1983’s “The Official Story,” which first brought the iniquities of the military junta to popular consciousness — as the devious teacher of pernicious life lessons to her grandson (Conrado Valenzuela). But though first-time Argentinean helmer Daniel Bustamante lays out the stages of his protagonist’s (im)moral journey with subtle care, he lacks the visual punch to make them resonate. “Siesta” may eventually nod off on Hispanic cable.

When Andres’ mother dies in an accident, the family discovers her links to resistance fighters, betraying his grandmother’s image of her as the perfect conformist daughter-in-law. An inconsolable Andres moves in with his granny, who lays a trail of half-lies to wean him from his dead mother’s sway. Meanwhile, a clandestinedetention center where political prisoners are grilled, near the school playground, becomes the place of Andres’ evolving education as he is befriended by an amicable torturer-interrogator (Marcelo Melingo). Unsurprisingly, the student soon surpasses his masters.

Andres Doesn't Want to Take a Siesta

Production

An El Ansia, San Luis Cine production. (International sales: Primer Plano Films Group, Buenos Aires.) Produced by Daniel Bustamante, Carolina Alvarez. Executive producer, Alvarez. Directed, written by Daniel Bustamante.

Crew

Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Sebastian Gallo; editor, Rafael Menendez; music, Federico Salcedo; art director, Romina Cariola; costume designer, Ana Lidejover, Cesar Taibo. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (competing), Sept. 6, 2009. Running time: 112 MIN.

With

Norma Aleandro, Conrado Valenzuela, Fabio Aste, Marcelo Melingo, Celina Font, Juan Manuel Tenuta.
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