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Friday, May 05, 2017

Colonia

While Emma Watson is world famous for appearing in eight Harry Potter movies and now Beauty and the Beast, which is a mega-hit, her film career as an adult got off to a less than auspicious start. Her first two starring roles were in films that barely got released. One of them is Colonia, a political thriller that sees her trying to rescue a boyfriend from the evil clutches of a cult in Pinochet's Chile.

Watson stars as a flight attendant who is in Chile with her revolutionary German boyfriend (Daniel Bruhl) when the coup takes place. That ushered in some very scary times, as many were executed in the soccer stadium. Bruhl is taken to a rural church compound, the Colonia Dignidad (Colony of Dignity), which is run by a religious nut (Michael Nykvist) who believes in sadism and diddling little boys.

Bruhl is horribly tortured but is beaten so badly they think he has brain damage. He's only pretending, though, trying to find a way out. Watson joins the cult unbeknownst to him, finding it a horror, living under the thumb of a matron called Aunt Gisela (Richenda Cary). For the women, it's somewhat like The Handmaid's Tale, as they are forbidden almost everything.

The director is Florian Gallenberger, who won an Oscar for Best Short Film some years ago, and it's got some pretty good suspense, as the pair endeavor to escape not only the compound but the country, as the major nations of the world, including the U.S., supported Pinochet. It's a true story, but some of the events seem highly implausible. But for while you're watching it it does the job of giving you almost two hours of reasonable entertainment. It never got a release date in the U.S. and made only 2.5 million dollars, and it deserved better than that.

It's also the first time I've seen Watson in a role that suggests she has sex. After years of seeing her as Hermione Granger this requires some adjusting of attitude.

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