Also with: Lorenzo Quinteros, Andre Melancon.
Lita Stantic’s Argentine political drama, “A Wall of Silence,” is a kind of sequel to the 1985 Oscar-winning “The Official Story.” Focusing on the effects of the former military dictatorship on the contemporary lives of a mother and daughter, the film tackles the important issue of how individuals deal with traumatic past events. But pic’s awkward structure, slow pacing and unexciting direction result in a moderately absorbing drama that will appeal mainly to viewers interested in political cinema.
Sporting short blond hair, Vanessa Redgrave plays Kate, a British director making a movie in Buenos Aires about a married couple whose lives have been torn apart by the repressive military regime. Struggling with how to approach her material and guide her actors, Kate finds out that Silvia Cassini (Ofelia Medina), the woman whose life is being portrayed in the film, is now remarried, trying to forget her haunting past, particulary the disappearance of her first husband.
Revolving around the issue of personal and collective memory, tale describes the inevitable impact of the past on contemporary lives, suggesting that there is no escape from history, and that sooner or later one must come to terms with the most horrible events in one’s life.
Regrettably, this riveting subject is treated with an awkward narrative structure, one that prevents emotional involvement with the characters’ fascinating stories. First-time helmer Stantic switches back and forth between the filming of the political saga, which is rather dull, and the lives of the real-life counterparts, told through flashbacks. An unmodulated pacing makes the transition between sub-plots all the more maladroit.
Making a valiant effort to speak in Spanish, Redgrave is nonetheless miscast as the English director who inadvertently becomes the catalyst for the ensuing melodramatic events. Redgrave is simply too intelligent to convince as a filmmaker who walks around during rehearsals helplessly, not knowing how to direct her actors. As the film’s emotional center — and best asset — the beautiful Medina captures the tragic price of historical forgetfulness and the urgent need for remembrance of things past.
Moderate technical credits, including newsreel footage, enhance the look of the film but are not sufficient to make it a compellingly touching drama.