A young woman's desperate search for her abducted boyfriend draws her into the infamous Colonia Dignidad, a sect nobody has ever escaped from.A young woman's desperate search for her abducted boyfriend draws her into the infamous Colonia Dignidad, a sect nobody has ever escaped from.A young woman's desperate search for her abducted boyfriend draws her into the infamous Colonia Dignidad, a sect nobody has ever escaped from.
For a basic plot summary, this movie tells the story of Lena (Emma Watson) & Daniel (Daniel Bruhl), two young adults who happen to get caught up in General Pinochet's military coup of Chile (both were protesting against that very action). Daniel is sent away to some sort of cultish camp (Colonia Dignidad) which is led by the brutal and enigmatic Paul Schafer (Michael Nyqvist). Lena volunteers for the women's section of the cult/camp, experiencing similar horrors of her own in order to track Daniel down and hope to come up with an escape plan.
Probably the biggest "knock" I'd have on this film is that parts of it really don't make sense (and really don't even try to). In film-making convention, that is kind of a no-no. You never really understand the motivations behind some of the characters or the things that happen.
At the same time, though, that is a large part of why this movie can be quite effective when looked through a different lens...that of reality. One of the characters, a fellow cult member to Lena, utters a quote along the lines of "don't try to make sense of this place...you never will". That's what the viewer has to do when watching this movie, too. Instead of dissecting it, this is one of those movies where you just have to sit back and allow yourself to think "this was actually a real place". Once you see what happened inside the walls of the cult, that thought alone will make you shudder.
It helps, of course, that the acting is mostly spot-on. Watson is perfect, as usual (it's too bad she is taking a bit of a sabbatical these days, as her work is always stellar), and Schafer's character is legitimately creepy. Plus, there is just an air of weirdness and mystery surrounding the entire project that gives it a great sense of foreboding and tension.
Overall, I enjoyed watching "Colonia" as much for its uniqueness and "true story" nature (especially one I had never heard of before) as anything else. Like I said, if you critique it on "script cohesiveness" alone it might come up lacking, but once you let the gravitas of its real-life events sink in I think it will move you to care about the characters and their situations.
- Feb 27, 2017