Sunday, May 20, 2007

Días de Santiago (2004)

A 23-year-old Peruvian Navy veteran struggles to re-integrate himself into society only to hit a series of roadblocks both societal and psychological, in the feature directorial debut from Peruvian filmmaker Josue Mendez. Santiago Roman (Pietro Sibille) has just returned to Peru following six years of military service. Coolly received by his parents and unable to find a stable, well-paying job, the dejected Santiago's attempt to further his education is quickly squelched when he discovers that his military pension doesn't offer the money needed to pay his way through school. Though Santiago eventually lands a low-paying job as an inner-city taxi driver, his disdain for the scum of the city finds the formerly virile young soldier sinking into a deep-rooted depression. When a group of Santiago's former military buddies hatch a plan to rob a local bank, the conflicted veteran must choose between an honest life of poverty and an act of desperation that could end in tragedy. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

The plan for the bank heist is actually hatched before he starts taxi driving and does help him pay for a computer class (individual study on a computer). His handicapped friend gives him the car before his friend commits suicide.

It is interesting the various filters the director uses to convey feelings and the most prominent is when it seems that he is most torn internally that the screen is black and white with a prominent grain texture but not distracting in the least. So good technique even though it could have been a cheesy stunt.

Peruvian reality in Dias de Santiago
Dias de Santiago is the opera prima of a Peruvian director that with very low budget managed to tell the stressful story of Santiago. It is a strong movie... I think that people that like independent movies will love this one.

The plot: Santiago is a 23 year old retire marine that returns to Lima after 3 years from fighting in the Peruvian jungle against drug traffic, terrorism and a conflict with neighbor country, Ecuador. Although Santiago was constantly attacked by guilty feelings of the abuses committed by the Peruvian Armed Forces while he was in service (women, children and old people were assassinated with no apparent cause; young women were rapped by members of the armed force; under-the-table negotiations were made with drug mobs, etc.) he was proud of who he was back then. Back in Lima, Peru's centralized capital, things are very different. This chaotic concrete jungle has its own rules, mostly unwritten ones. Santiago is obsessed in trying to decipher the codes, but he fails because his family, friends don't live like structured way he learned in while he was in service.

Yes Santiago is deeply disturbed with thoughts going back and forth from homicide and violence to suicide. But the major theme is not the bank heist but his inability to have a stable relationship with any women he meets.

And his family is actually more morally bankrupt than him. The Peruvian women in the film were very nice on the eyes.

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