Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ivan’s Woman/La Mujer de Ivan (2011)-Review

Director: Francisca Silva
Country: Chile
Synopsis: Since she was a little girl, Natalia lives captive in Ivan’s house. They live like family, despite the repressive regime they live in. When she has her sexual awakening, the kidnapper’s powers begins to weaken, showing his desire for love and a woman’s companionship. The house is transformed into an amoral battlefield, in which Ivan and Natalia struggle with each other, exchanging love for freedom. –IFFK

Review: Stockholm syndrome or capture-bonding is disturbing, at its most innocent manifestation. In the case of Ivan and Natalia, there is the sexual tension between them that adds another dimension to this issue. We see the gradual transformation of Natalia from Ivan’s hostage to his woman depicted in a natural flow.

Natalia entices her abductor, yet she never ceases to long for freedom. Her crude and childish play for Ivan is portrayed in a startlingly clear way. Ivan’s frustration at his growing desire for his young hostage, his hesitation and eagerness is conveyed faithfully.

The cinematography is stark and naked, devoid of any distractions. We can share the claustrophobia that Natalia feels inside the house and her sense of release in the sun. The lighting used is perfect. Maria de los Angles Garcia as Natalia and Marcelo Alonso as Ivan were wonderful, to say the least. It was really as much an actors’ movie as it was the director’s.

Francisca Silva refrains from taking a pedantic approach. She lets us watch Ivan and Natalia’s life and bond unfold without making her judgment of it interfere with our viewing experience. Filming a 40 year old kidnapper making love to a 15 year old hostage tastefully could not have been easy. Yet she does this with empathy and at the same time hints at the repulsive nature of this relationship. She has succeeded in sketching a complex picture in simple strokes. You feel that you are watching the lives of two individuals through your own eyes. You don’t see the reins or the blindfold, controlled by the storyteller. That, to my mind, is the best tribute I can pay to this film, and to the director’s craft.

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