Saturday, 14 November 2015

On the Road: Going underground

The 33
dir Patricia Riggen; with Antonio Banderas, Rodrigo Santoro, Juliette Binoche 15/Chl ***.Based on the true story of the 2010 Chilean mining disaster that captured the world's attention, this film starts out like a rather standard B-movie, with lots of corny melodrama and characters that have clearly been ramped up for dramatic effect. Then the astonishing events kick into gear and the film becomes startlingly gripping. Which is unexpected since the outcome is so well-known. But director Riggen, while never indulging in anything very flashy or inventive, quietly keeps the film grounded in reality, deepening the characters and situations by showing the side of the story the news media never reported. She also cleverly indulges in lots of religious imagery, while letting her starry cast do their thing to create engaging characters we can't help but root for. Banderas, Binoche and Santoro all get a chance to shine, as does a rather underused Lou Diamond Phillips. So even if it feels rather like a by-the-books TV disaster movie, the film works its way under the skin. And the final scenes (plus a black and white coda) carry a solid emotional kick.

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