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TIFF Review: Colonia


A Lufthansa flight attendant joins a cult in an effort to find and rescue her graphic artist boyfriend who is a political prisoner in Chile.

 A stopover in Chile allows the opportunity for Lena (Emma Watson) to have a romantic interlude with Daniel (Daniel Brühl) which is interrupted by a military coup which overthrows the government.  Soldiers are sent out to arrest dissidents which causes the two foreign lovers to flee; however, Daniel cannot resist taking pictures of violent force being used by the army resulting in them being taken into custody.

Daniel and Lena are taken to a stadium where an informant identifies the latter as a member of the opposition which sees him forced into an ambulance that speeds off.  Lena visits the political advocates who are going underground and learns the whereabouts of Daniel; he has been taken to secret agricultural commune established by a vicious minister.  Lena joins the cult with the goal of freeing Daniel from his captivity.

Colonia is inspired by real events involving the remotely situated Colonia Dignidad which had a pact with the Chilean government to detain tortured political prisoners.  Thankfully, the romance helps to drive the plot and the female protagonist is proactive rather than a damsel in distress.  A gradual reveal of all the abuses being committed at the religious colony adds to the suspense as well as tense escape sequence that takes place involves tunnels and a showdown at an airport.

Emma Watson (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) continues to make a successful transition as an adult actress while Daniel Brühl (Rush) for some reason remains an underrated performer.   The story combines elements of Missing and Witness via The Stepford Wives to execute an effective historical thriller crafted by filmmaker Florian Gallenberger (Shadows of Time).

3.5 out of 5

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.


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