music friday: killers three

argentina, 1985 (santiago mitre, 2022)

Argentina, 1985 is a tremendous re-creation of a critical moment in the history of Argentina, the Trial of the Juntas against the recently deposed military dictatorship of the country. Director Santiago Mitre, writer Mariano Llinás, and all of the production crew took great pains to give their film a documentary feel, replicating the history by shooting in some of the same locations in which events occurred. They also subtly incorporate actual footage of the trial, unobtrusively adding to the impression that what we are seeing is what really happened.

This only goes so far, because the acting is so strong, not because the lead, the always excellent Ricardo Darín, is an exact copy of prosecutor Julio Strassera, or that the acting in general carries the same documentary feel we get from much of the film. In fact, the contrast between the actorly performances and the more straightforward representation of facts adds an interesting tension to what we are seeing. We admire the work of Darín at the same time we admire the work of the real-life Strassera.

The film itself is a standard courtroom drama. It's well-done, but not necessarily any different from a dozen other films set in courtrooms. But the real-life stakes of the trial make for something more vital than, say, To Kill a Mockingbird. And when Darín gives Strassera's closing argument (almost word-for-word with the actual statement), his abilities as an actor, combined with the dramatic impact of Strassera's words, leave most other movies behind, courtroom drama or not.


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