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Machuca Review

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Two children from different ends of the social spectrum become friends and witness the events that unfold in Chile under Pinochet.

★★★★★

The most successful picture in Chilean history has been credited by some with breaking the spell that General Pinochet had exerted over his nation for 30 years.

Timid bourgeois Matias Quer's friendship with shanty-dwelling Ariel Mateluna and his sassy cousin Manuela Martelli is undoubtedly affecting and is persuasively enacted by the young debutants. Moreover, Andres Wood's technical control and eye for '70s detail are impressive.

But while the demonstrations and the climactic crackdown are well handled, this fact-based story is occasionally prone to moments of actorly excess, heavy-handed melodrama and sentimental didacticism, most notably when the focus shifts to the naive espousal of socio-political rhetoric.

Prone to melodrama and didacticism, this may be an important film, but it's not a great one.

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