There have been oft-told stories of parents wracked with the inextinguishable pain of a missing child, but Argentine filmmaker Albertina Carri peers from the other side of the looking glass in her meta-documentary The Blonds. It was her parents who disappeared in 1977, casualties of a right-wing genocidal junta that controlled Argentina for seven years and left in its wake an estimated 30,000 people simply gone without explanation. Magnanimous yet slapdash, The Blonds records Carri’s effort to satiate her—and her nation’s—parentless identity. Beginning with the sarcastic title, derived from a former neighbor’s recollection that her whole family had blond hair (which, plainly, they did not), Carri is waxing on “the fiction of memory” and blurring the documentary line by casting an actress (the inexpressive Analia Couceyro) as her alter ego, complete with camera-within-a-camera moments of Carri requiring multiple takes. But this presents the same logjam as it did in the overpraised American Splendor—the gimmickry undercuts the emotional crux instead of enlivening it, which matters significantly given Carri’s clumsiness as a narrative director. She is better equipped at teasing out details from her parents’ old friends and acquaintances, most of whom speak sympathetically but through a residue of still-existing fear. In an eccentric stylistic gesture reminiscent of Todd Haynes’s Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, Carri represents her indecipherable childhood memories through Lego-like figurines and stop-motion animation, climaxing with a fake plastic spaceship abducting the parent characters. Those sequences are illuminated by a clear-eyed inquisitiveness that highlights its maker’s personal quest. Noble intentions can only get her so far before the project begins to border on unprofessional. “I have to think of something,” she prays, “something to make a movie about.” A better filmmaker would have figured that out before calling action.
- Women Make Movies
- 89 min
- Albertina Carri
- Albertina Carri
- Analia Couceyro, Albertina Carri
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