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Imagining Argentina Review

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When journalist Cecilia Rueda (Thompson) becomes one of the government’s abductees in 1970s Argentina, her husband Carlos (Banderas) develops a psychic connection to many of the ‘disappeared’. Following his visions in a desperate search for his wife, he r

★★★★

That playwright-turned-director Christopher Hampton's brave adaptation of Lawrence Thornton's award-winning novel should have been met with boos and walk-outs at the Venice Film Festival is absurd.

The story does no disrespect to the victims of torture and murder in Argentina, but insists we remember what happened to them (and many others today around the globe, as the film's final words say). The whole point of this compassionate, mystical love story is that imagination, memory and empathy are weapons against inhumanity.

Simpatico Banderas holds the centre with soulful presence, and an impassioned Thompson is gut-wrenching while events move, sometimes electrifyingly, between the real and the imagined as Carlos envisions horrors that have taken place or are yet to come. Around them a fine Latin-Anglo ensemble (from Claire Bloom to Spanish discovery Leticia Dolera) and elements such as Carlos' subversive children's theatre productions illustrate why repressive regimes routinely target creative artists and students.

While this could be summed up as Missing meets The Sixth Sense, it is no mean feat to combine a political thriller with magical realism. Hampton makes a moving job of it, with top-notch cinematography and heartfelt performances. Fans of films such as Salv