The Colony (2015)

1:41 PM

Escape is the Only Option.
 The Colony is directed by Florian Gallenberger (City of War: The Story of John Rabe, Shadows of Time) and stars Emma Watson (Harry Potter, Beauty and the Beast), Daniel Bruhl (Inglorious Basterds, Captain America: Civil War) and Michael Nyqvist (John Wick, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).  "A young woman's desperate search for her abducted boyfriend that draws her into the infamous Colonia Dignidad, a sect nobody has ever escaped from". Based on true events, this film should be an eye opener to a dark part of Chilean history many are not aware of - is it effective or has Hollywood gone and done its thing?


It's a shame because The Colony could have been so much better and probably would have been an awards contender if some (pretty major) tweaks were made as this is a really interesting story and I will give credit to this film as it did make me aware of Colonia Dignidad and I have since researched more into it to find out about this shocking part of history. However, where this film fails is that it is ultimately a fictional tale about two lovers - one of which being British and the other being German. This story should have been about the people of Chile and I think this fictional tale was told the way it was to give it mainstream appeal and I am pleased to say, the filmmakers won't be doing that again as this film was not a success at all - stay true to the story. 

The performances in the film were pretty solid. I still couldn't rub Hermione Granger from Emma Watson - the characters were very different but also very similar. The personality traits of Lena were very similar to Granger but their lifestyles and situations were different. This meant Watson wasn't really out of her comfort zone and isn't really challenged. I do think this role required an actress who was a little more mature - someone like Alicia Vikander may have been a better fit. Watson was my main draw to watching this film as I believe 2017 could be her year (like 2016 was Margot Robbie's) with the release of Beauty and the Beast and (lesser so) The Circle. Watson may not have been incredible but she was good enough. Daniel Bruhl was also fine but did have some pretty weak moments - towards the beginning of the film, his character receives a phone call and the lines that follow are blatant exposition so I don't know if I cringed at this moment because of the lines themselves or the way they were delivered (it was as if Bruhl was aware the lines were just there to explain to the audience what was going on). Michael Nyqvist's performance gave me similar vibes to Steve Carrell in Foxcatcher - his character made me feel uneasy and was incredibly unlikeable. The problem with all of the performances in The Colony is that they just aren't powerful enough - this film is covering a serious matter and I just think if some actors of a higher calibre were cast, this could have been completely different and so many more moments would have hit. 

The story that The Colony tells is pretty good and it is entertaining throughout - with its 2 hour running time, that is important. However, what I couldn't help but do afterwards is look into the history and this film is just incredibly inaccurate and pretty sloppy. It is hard to tell what is going on half of the time and to understand, research is required - this is a film that has homework that comes with it and that's a completely different debate - should film's have homework? It is for you to decide whether to watch this film as I guarantee to understand exactly what is going on, you will need to go to Google. The story itself is actually quite distasteful and disrespectful - why tell a fictional story when you inform the audience 5 people did manage to escape? Why not tell a story about one of those 5 people who probably have an interesting story to tell? Why make this a heroic tale for the British and German when it could have been a heroic tale for Chile? I just don't understand that reasoning at all as there are many talented South American actors who could have done a good job and made the film feel authentic. Yes, The Colony may be a transnational film with connections in many corners of the globe but I think what has been lost is the cold truth of this story. There just isn't much weight to this story and I feel like there could have been - this could have been an Unbroken (2014) which was incredibly heavy but still interesting instead it was the tale of Colonia Dignidad lite. 

This film definitely has the shock value and a really intense scene during the first act of the film - watching Bruhl's character be tortured is hard to get through and I actually felt pain for the character. There is also quite a discomforting scene that hints towards sexual interaction with children - the scene does not go too far but I think it hints enough at what happened. I also thought it was hard to watch Watson's character work so hard, clearly getting tired, and she asks for water and gets a bucket load put in front of her that she isn't allowed to drink but must keep working. Who knows whether things like this actually happened to this extent but this place did not seem nice! The third act of the film is incredibly Hollywood and gets a little silly and daft - the moment where the characters steal and suitcase-train on the airport runway had me out - what is this? The Fast and the Furious? 

The Colony is a fine film to watch if you are looking for something to give you an insight into a piece of history you may not know about - I would actually recommend it for that reason. The problem is, this story is ultimately fictional which leaves the audience with a lot of homework to know what actually happened and to put the pieces together. This story could have been filled with some more political themes but the director just wasn't willing to go there. The acting is fine but nothing special - Watson tries her best. I just can't drop the fact that a White British character is taking the limelight away from a Chilean protesters - that is who this story should have been about so The Colony is just another example of Hollywood doing its thing as an attempt to appeal to the mainstream. It's sad that it has to be this way. 

54
/100

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