28 August 2017 | Lechuguilla
"Deep Down Dark"
In this true-life story, the title relates to the number of miners trapped in a copper mine in Chile, in 2010. It's a compelling premise. We feel for the miners in their small, claustrophobic hole some two thousand feet below the surface. And we empathize with anxious family and friends above ground who desperately want the men rescued.
Based on the follow-up book "Deep Down Dark", the script has some problems. Characterization is minimal. Barely twenty minutes in, the mine's collapse supersedes characterization. If you're not familiar with the people by then, too bad; miners and their family members tend to take on a stick figure quality, one character pretty much blends in with some other character.
English dialogue in a Spanish speaking country comes across as unrealistic. But much worse is the stilted, contrived nature of the chat; overwrought drama, anguish, arguing, and outward display of emotions reek of Hollywood talking, not the people who experienced this event. Despite the overly Hollywood feel to the script, the final twenty minutes are compelling and inspiring.
Casting and acting are generally acceptable, except for the presence of Antonio Banderas in the lead role. As happens so often, Hollywood inserts big name actors into lead roles, which accentuates the Hollywood feel of a film, rendering the movie contrived. I would have preferred a lesser known actor.
Background music consists of Spanish songs, which is nice. Color cinematography does a nice job in a low-light environment. Some segments in Act II could have been excised or shortened, as they either slow down the plot or they convey the impression of filler.
The main reason to see this film is because of its real-life premise. The event really happened. How that event was handled by different characters, and the emotions it evoked during a span of many days is what gives the film its potency, a flawed movie script notwithstanding.