In theaters now from Screen Media Films and Academy Award winning director Florian Gallenberger is a riveting story of what went on behind the walls of “Colonia.”
Lena (Emma Watson) is a young airline stewardess who is in love with Daniel (Daniel Brühl). While on a trip to Chile, she meets up with Daniel who is providing photography and art work for the protesters in 1973.
Their time together is short-lived when Pinochet’s secret police begin to gather up all the protesters. Being pointed out as one of the leaders of the group, Daniel is taken away leaving Lena behind. The only lead she has is a familiar truck that others seem to know.
The vehicle belongs to the Colonia Dignidad, a charitable mission that is run by self-proclaimed preacher Paul Schäfer (Michael Nyqvist). Seeking advice on how to get inside to find Daniel, Lena poses as a young woman seeking God to get inside the compound. What she doesn’t know is what Daniel has been going through himself.
From the moment she walked through the highly guarded door, Lena realized that those around the compound lived in another world and some lived in fear. Trying to remain focused, Lena discovers that there is something disturbing happening. Learning all she can puts her in even more danger than she could have ever imagined.
What she does is not only for love but because it is right!
Watson as Lena continues to grow away from the role that made her famous. Not that there is anything wrong with being known as Hermione Granger, but her performances since then have been truly amazing. From “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” to “The Bling Ring” and even taking herself less seriously in “This is the End,” she continues to grow and take chances. In “Colonia”, Watson is strong, determined, and allows her character to take one hard step after another deeper into a dark place that could easily make her disappear.
Brühl as Daniel is a man possessed with getting on film the atrocities facing the people of Chile. Putting himself in danger is one thing but now he has dragged Lena deep into it. Even when he realizes she is in the compound, Brühls character continues to put them in danger. That part of Daniel really peeved me a tad but I ain’t mad at cha! When Lena literally saves the day I realize who is truly thinking straight. Brühl caught my eye as he pretty much caught everyone else’s in the 2009 Tarantino film “Inglorious Basterds.”
Nyqvist as Schäfer plays a douche bag in every sense of the word. From his abuse of women and children to helping a brutal government, this is a character that is going to be hated. That being said his performance is nothing short of riveting to experience! Nyqvist throws himself into this role and it’s scary to watch but the point is you do watch! Once again I not only appreciate every nuance of his portrayal of this despicable human being but am an out n’ out fan of Nyqvist. His resume of roles is so damn impressive and they are diverse in scope. When he is playing a dark character Nyqvist doesn’t blink an eye unless that’s exactly what he wants to do. He knocked it out of the park in the film “John Wick.”
A shout out to Richenda Carey as matron Gisela. Talk about having a look that is filled with crazy, Carey gives Gisela every ounce of a reason to take her seriously when she speaks and never, ever turn your back on this woman! So well done.
Other cast include: Vickey Krieps as Ursel, Jeanne Werner as Doro, Julian Ovenden as Roman, Martin Wuttke as Niels Biedermann, Nicolas Barsoff as Jorge, Steve Karier as Bernd, and Johannes Allmayer as Kieter.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “Colonia” four tubs of popcorn out of five. There are some serious performances here that I enjoyed very much. I do wish the story had gone a little deeper but it doesn’t change my opinion of the film. The story line is extremely intense but it is also heartbreaking knowing there were people who suffered so much at the hands of those in that compound. “Colonia” is also the Official Selection of the Toronto International Film Festival.
Colonia Dignidad was founded by Paul Schäfer in 1961 and located in Santiago de Chile in a very isolated part of the country. Living by a tyrants rule, the charity was actually a disguise for something much darker. With the protection of General Augusto Pinochet, Schäfer produced weapons and poison gas. Very few people managed to escape from Schäfer or the compound and some that did were recaptured because the Germany Embassy supported Schäfer.
Director Gallenberger recalls what brought the need to make the film. “I was a student at elementary school when I heard about that place in Chile where people couldn’t run away and lived like prisoners. It really shocked me. The more time I spent studying the historical facts and hearing people’s stories, the more I wanted to learn about Schäfer’s microcosm”.
To do that, Gallengerger wanted to tell not only the story of the governments involved but Colonia Dignidad. “Although our two main characters are fictitious, each detail of the film is historically confirmed; even some of the dialogue with Paul Schäfer is authentic”. For me, that is what makes the film even more intense.
In the end — it’s an unforgettable story of survival!