20 January 2016 | bcstoneb444
offbeat, to say the least
but still quite good. And it's probably a safe bet to say that you've never seen a documentary quite like Fatherland (Tierra de los Padres). Indeed there must be other movies or documentaries about cemeteries - though I can't think of a lot offhand. On one level Fatherland is a kind of historical/travel film, a highly idiosyncratic tour of the La Recoleta cemetery in Buenos Aires. Not so surprising, the property is said to be haunted by many of its interred residents in their afterlife.
The story line is: a person, presumably an actor or author, book in hand, stands in front of a tomb and reads extracts from writings penned by the dead buried inside, including Eva Peron. Then the reader vanishes, after which there's a short transition and the next reader appears. One might be forgiven for thinking this sounds like a recipe for mega boredom. However, I found myself hooked after about fifteen minutes and found it, as the saying goes, compulsively watchable.
As much as Fatherland's approach is imaginative, be advised that everything moves at a stately pace and provides precious letup in mood and tone. Thus if your thing is squealing tires, gunfights and fiery conflagrations, then better pass this one by.
A few quibbles: sometimes the individual readings go on a bit long, and the prelude and epilogue which serve as bookends might have been cut entirely without damaging the main body of the film. Still, a thought-provoking, moving work, fine as it is. But at a slow 100 minutes, it might have been an even better film had director Nicolás Prividera benefited from some judicious editing. Seven stars.