The Official Story (1985)

The Official Story (1985)

A heartbreaking family drama that reveals the human cost of Argentina’s political unrest in the 20th century

7.7

Movie

Argentina
English, Spanish
Drama, History
1985
LUIS PUENZO
Analia Castro, Andrea Tenuta, Aníbal Morixe
112 min

TLDR

Norma Aleandro is excellent here.

What it's about

Buenos Aires, 1983. Due to infertility, high school history teacher Alicia (Norma Aleandro) has adopted 5-year-old Gaby with her wealthy husband Roberto, and their comfortable life is unaffected by the disappearances around the country. However, after her friend Ana returns from Europe, and shares what caused her to leave, Alicia begins to question the truth behind Gaby’s adoption.

The take

Most people aspire to have families, deciding to form their own by marrying, bearing children, and if fertility makes that impossible, adopting one. The Official Story is centered on upper middle class Alicia, who’s already made the idyllic family life, with the last piece completed with her adoption of Gaby, but there are secrets held from her, or rather, there are realities that she chose not to listen to because of the painful implications. Writer-director Luis Puenzo juxtaposes the family secret to the violent ones the Argentine junta government kept from its citizens. It's not a subtle comparison– Puenzo makes it obvious– but it's an effective one, as Alicia has to reckon with the fact that she lies in bed with a stranger, as Argentina has to reckon with the remaining junta members and enablers.

What stands out

The timing of the film. Puenzo was already creating the screenplay even while the junta government was in power, and he was willing to shoot in secret just to make the film– It just so happened that the junta government fell when the screenplay was completed. But it's because of this preparation that the film became one of the first depictions criticizing the regime… and also one of the best.

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