Chile, second half of the 20th century. The poor Esteban marries Clara and they get a daughter, Blanca. Esteban works hard and eventually gets money to buy a hacienda, eventually to become a local patriarch. He becomes very conservative and is feared by his workers. When Blanca grows up, she falls in love with a young revolutionary, Pedro, who urges the workers to fight for socialism. It is unavoidable that Pedro and Esteban are pitted against each other. Esteban tries to stop the love affair between Pedro and his daughter by all means possible but soon Blanca becomes pregnant and has a daughter. The void between father and daughter seems unbridgeable when Blanca moves in with Pedro. Written by
I've never been a fan of Bille August, and this film has only furthered my opinion of his work. I found the directing, as well as the editing, choppy and incoherent. Mr. August tried too hard to be mystical and discreet in his telling of the tale--to the point of being annoyingly aloof and superficial.
The take-home message is, however, refreshing in its complexity and layers. The events all seem to come full circle and continue through the generations of the family, as Clara verbalized in her diaries, "the relationships between events." Lende's message was that evil begets evil, and nothing good came from malice. Such is sadly noted upon reflection that many misfortunes stemmed from poor judgment, and unacknowledged or unrectified wrongdoings in the past.
I thought the characters Farula and Esteban were the best-written and the best-acted, by far. Glenn Close exuded every bit of the torn and love-deprived spinster sister, her very gaze a window to her harsh and barren life. Jeremy Irons' portrayal of the dark and contradictory Esteban was brazen yet vulnerable, between his political persona and love for his wife.
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