You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Illiterate’

Moises Sepulveda's clunky two-hander gives unimaginative screen treatment to Pablo Paredes' play.


Paulina Garcia, Valentina Muhr.

A woman in her 50s hides her inability to read or write in debuting helmer Moises Sepulveda’s stage-bound adaptation of Pablo Paredes’ play “Illiterate.” The sort of Afterschool Special-style item that might appeal to teachers’ unions, this clunky two-hander, in which both characters have secrets they reluctantly share, wouldn’t be playing outside Chile if not for the presence of Pauline Garcia, deservedly riding high after her star turn in “Gloria.” Unfortunately, she can’t save “Illiterate” from its self-concious source or Sepulveda’s unimaginative conception.

Solitary Ximena (Garcia) has mastered strategies for getting people to read signs she can’t interpret. Then Jackeline (Valentina Muhr) turns up, offering to read her the newspaper as her mother, Ximena’s late neighbor, once did. The young woman has a teaching degree and is eager to put it to use, but Ximena resists the semi-humiliation of being taught until Jackeline convinces her, thanks to a carefully preserved letter from Ximena’s father, which the illiterate woman now wants to decipher. Sepulveda and Paredes’ script is strictly by-the-book, unimaginatively divided into exposition, confession, catharsis. Lensing barely opens up the play, and music is intrusive.

Film Review: 'Illiterate'

Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Critics’ Week), Sept. 5, 2013. (Also in Chicago Film Festival — New Directors.) Running time: 73 MIN. Original title: "Las analfabetas"


(Chile) A Planta, Kine imagenes, La Ventura, Provincianos Films production. (International sales: Habanero Film Sales, Rio de Janeiro.) Produced by Fernando Bascunan. Co-producers, Florencia Larrea, Alicia Scherson.


Directed by Moises Sepulveda. Screenplay, Pablo Paredes, Sepulveda, adapted from the play by Paredes. Camera (color, HD), Arnaldo Rodriguez; editor, Rodrigo Fernandez; music, Cristobal Carvajal; production designer/costume designer, Nicole Guzman; sound, Matias Valdes, Jose Palma; associate producers, Carmen Rodriguez, Angel Maulen, Daniel Hammer, Raul Bolivar; assistant director, Guillermo Salina.


Paulina Garcia, Valentina Muhr.

More Film

  • My Zoe

    'My Zoe': Film Review

    There are two films in Julie Delpy’s ambitious, sharply-made but unbalanced “My Zoe.” There’s the scabrous relationship melodrama, about bitter exes sharing custody of a beloved child, which contains the story’s most potent emotions. And there’s the sci-fi-inflected ethical-dilemma grief movie, which houses its most provocative ideas. Both have much to recommend them, not least [...]

  • Richard Jewell

    The Big Lie of 'Richard Jewell' (Column)

    For a man who was so enraged at the administration of Barack Obama that he spent his 2012 Republican Convention speech lecturing an empty chair, Clint Eastwood has made a number of conventional, level-headed — one might even say liberal — political dramas. Films like “Invictus” and “J. Edgar” and “Midnight in the Garden of [...]

  • Oscar Isaac Star Wars The Rise

    Oscar Isaac Has Never Felt Like a 'Star Wars' Insider

    Unlike his “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” co-stars Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, Oscar Isaac had already established a long and acclaimed acting career before J.J. Abrams cast him as ace X-wing pilot Poe Dameron in 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” including standout roles in 2006’s “The Nativity Story” and 2011’s “Drive,” and [...]

  • Les Arcs to Showcase New Projects

    Les Arcs to Showcase New Projects by Jonas Alexander Arnby, Agnieszka Smoczyńska

    Denmark’s Jonas Alexander Arnby, France’s Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli, and Poland’s Agnieszka Smoczyńska are among up-and-coming directors from across Europe whose latest projects will be presented at the 11th Coproduction Village of Les Arcs Film Festival. This edition of Les Arcs Coproduction Village will showcase a total of 22 European projects spanning 19 countries. [...]

  • Chez Jolie Coiffure

    'Chez Jolie Coiffure': Film Review

    Shortly before the credits roll on “Chez Jolie Coiffure,” a customer in the eponymous hair salon asks her stylist, Sabine, if she has any plans to go home this year. Out of context, this sounds like the kind of standard, empty small talk one often makes while having one’s hair cut: what good movies you’ve [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content