|Argentina, 1985 starts with a lawyer Julio Strassera (Ricardo Darín) and his family. It’s a modest house, filled with a son who adores his father, a father who hates his daughter’s new boyfriend, and a wife who thinks he needs to go easier on his daughter. But there’s a lot more going on, primarily because Julio is about to become the central figure in the most important court case in Argentina’s history.||2022 |
Directed by: Santiago Mitre
Screenplay by: Mariano Llinas, Santiago Mitre
Starring: Ricardo Darin, Peter Lanzani
When a movie tackles a story this important and this powerful, it just needs to tell it straight to be good. And it does. It hits all the right moments, every turn in the story is given an accurate and compelling viewpoint. By connecting the story to real human fears and emotions and the significance to recent political and current events, it really elevates the movie into something with a lasting impact.
The first point is Julio’s paranoia. He’s the prosecutor in the trial to indict Argentina’s bloody, violent and murderous military dictators. He has reason to be paranoid. He believes his daughter’s new boyfriend is a spy, implanted by the former military leaders to gain insight into Julio and his legal strategy. His wife disagrees, he’s just a boy who likes their daughter, not a spy.
Meanwhile, the case is coming fast and Julio doesn’t have much of a legal strategy. He’s the smartest and most experienced lawyer who isn’t a fascist supporter – and remember, for a country just coming out of a bloody dictatorship, its citizens are torn, potentially half of them still support the military and another quarter are going to be weary of the socialist regime. Julio meets his deputy prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo (Peter Lanzani), a young lawyer who has never litigated a trial and has no experience to his name. Julio is not impressed at all. But Luis represents one of the most significant developments in the trial, in the movie, and in the greater connection to current political events: the youth movement.
Luis convinces Julio to hire a team of young legal investigators. A group of disillusioned 20-somethings. Kids who were born into a military dictatorship, who barely know what democracy looks like let alone have ever had the opportunity to vote for one, but as we have seen around the world, it’s the youth movement that is the most passionately anti-fascist. It was this group of lawyers who knew how to connect to the affected Argentinians. How to get the people who were tortured by the previous military regime and how to get them to tell their story in open court. As this movie correctly identifies, you need real people giving an emotional plea of what really happened in order to get justice and enact change.
Argentina, 1985 is a powerful and very interesting tale of Argentina’s fight for democracy and justice. Julio’s paranoia and fear are both covered with an interesting angle (and yes, we do get a conclusion to the daughter’s new boyfriend) and the youth movement is given a deserving focus. While the film focuses only on this one trial, there’s a parallel to other South American countries and their fight for democracy but also the 2020 American election and the anti-fascist youth movement that helped defeat Trump’s administration. It’s that reminder that history repeats itself and the best way to avoid past mistakes is to know and recognize them.