Post Mortem

"Very Good"

Post Mortem Review


Chilean filmmaker Larrain takes an askance approach to one of his nation's most horrific events, the violent 1973 coup that overthrew Allende. Intriguingly, the film has an almost post-apocalyptic tone.

Mario (Castro) works in the Santiago morgue, documenting autopsies performed by Dr Castillo (Vadell) and his assistant Sandra (Noguera). By night, he keeps his eye on his burlesque dancer neighbour Nancy (Zegers), who has just been sacked for being too thin. But Nancy's boyfriend Victor (Alonso) is involved in the anti-government movement, so when violence breaks out and the military take over, Mario's afraid he'll find Nancy in the bodies piling up in the morgue.

Meanwhile he, Castillo and Sandra are called to perform a significant autopsy.

By keeping the coup action off-screen, Larrain keeps the dramatic atmosphere almost unbearably dark. Grainy 1970s-style cinematography and production design add to the murkiness, as an eerily unsettling sound mix hints at the horror that's growing out of sight. As the spare hospital sets become overwhelmed with cadavers, we vividly feel, like the characters, that the end of the world has arrived.

The actors underplay their roles almost to the point where they seem like the undead, wandering through scenes with a dazed look of disbelief on their faces.

In the early scenes this is a little perplexing, since nothing has really happened yet. So Castro's stiff movements and dialog feel a bit arch and contrived for cinematic purposes, matching Larrain's mannered use of camera angles to show us some things and obscure others.

This stylised approach makes the awkward interaction deeply unsettling to watch. But the actors are terrific; Noguera is especially strong, as Sandra makes a tentative bid for affection from Mario, then later finds herself overwhelmed by the death that surrounds her. And scenes between Castro and Zegers are bristle with the subtext of their clashing expectations.

All of this vagueness is somewhat annoying, but Larrain is clearly trying to capture how it feels to have your life torn apart around you. In this sense, we sharply feel Mario's helplessness, and we understand his final desperate action. Although the way Larrain shoots it in a strangely long take betrays his indulgent approach to filmmaking.



Post Mortem

Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Run time: 98 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 11th April 2012

Box Office USA: $9.8k

Distributed by: Kino Lorber Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Fresh: 26 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Pablo Larrain

Producer: Juan de Dios Larrain

Starring: Marcelo Alonso as Víctor, Alfredo Castro as Mario, Amparo Noguera as Sandra, Jaime Vadell as Dr. Castillo

Also starring:

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