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The magical, transformative qualities of cinema, that La Contadora de Peliculas tries to propagate, are nowhere to be found in this beautifully shot yet formulaic and ultimately boring film.

Some of my favourite movies of all time are pictures that movingly translate to the big screen how much impact the cinematic experience can have on the lives of ordinary people. La Contadora de Peliculas tries the same trick but leaves no lasting impression.

Based on the acclaimed novel of the same name, the picture follows the life of a young girl in sixties and seventies Chile, who has to cope with an ill father, an absent mother and political upheaval but who finds solace in the movies that she recounts with gusto to other people in her village.

La Contadora de Peliculas has pedigree in director Lone Scherfig (of An Education fame) and actors Daniel Brühl and Bérénice Bejo, and it certainly looks like a classy, important film thanks to ace cinematography and a clear love for the subject of movies.

Yet the film also relies on an overload of clichés, hammers home the metaphors with blunt force and lacks the pure joy and wonder that films like Cinema Paradiso and The Purple Rose of Cairo do contain. La Contadora de Peliculas thus starts to drag narratively early on and things don’t really get better from thereon.

Once the picture inevitably touches upon the Augusto Pinochet coup in the final act, I had already tuned out emotionally, and odds are you too will feel disappointed by a movie that promises a transformative experience but ends up just meh.

release: 2024

director: Lone Scherfig

starring: Bérénice Bejo, Daniel Brühl, Antonio de la Torre, Sara Becker


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