Title – Colonia (2015)
Director – Florian Gallenberger (John Rabe)
Cast – Emma Watson, Daniel Brühl, Michael Nyqvist
Plot – Based around true events, Colonia sees flight attendant Lena (Watson) who goes searching for her kidnapped boyfriend Daniel (Brühl) who has been taken against his will by Chile’s Colonia Dignidad sect leader Paul Schäfer (Nyqvist) who runs his colony as a horrifying dictatorship that acts as a prison to all those that enter.
“Anyone can torture, but to break a person without harming physically, that’s an art”
Review by Eddie on 01/12/2016
Colonia (also known as The Colony is some territories) is a film that on paper has it all, a director with runs on the board behind camera, recognisable faces in front of the camera and a true story as its basis that would suggest a high stakes thriller that has the broad appeal of popcorn eaters and renowned critics alike so that Colonia failed so dismally upon its scattered release over the last 12 months (making roughly $61 pounds in its UK cinema release) is disappointing to say the least.
When speaking of disappointment its sadly a word that’s apt for the film itself even though its far more engaging that its near non-existent support upon release suggests.
While never making the most of its full-fledged story of the Colonia Dignidad that existed in the country of Chile for over 40 years thanks to the grizzly work of cult like leader Paul Schäfer (here played by a long haired Michael Nyqvist, doing a fairly creepy take on the character) who operated the facility as a diabolical prison like environment made for no escaping and a life of potato peeling, corn harvesting and public beatings, John Rabe director Florian Gallenberger still instils the film with enough atmosphere and soul that it will at times thoroughly engage.
Colonia does however continue on the rather disappointing career trend of Oscar winner Gallenberger who has failed to ever get close to the cinematic work he produced with his foreign language films like Shadows of Time and while Colonia isn’t terrible, the director certainly faces an uphill battle to ever get back to the standard he set in the early 2000’s.
The same could be said of Colonia’s stars Emma Watson (who needs next year’s Beauty and the Beast to be a big hit) and Daniel Brühl who seem to have found themselves in a career funk of late after early successes at their beginnings and while mostly fine by themselves in this tale, whenever the two get together an uneasy chemistry forms and much of the danger and dramatics of this rather scary story get lost in amongst their badly formed double up.
Failing to distinguish itself from a TV movie like vibe, Colonia may not have deserved its quick death and critical drubbing upon release but the story of this eerily scary and freighting true story could’ve been so much more, even if its moments of quality make it a watchable and often thoroughly enjoyable thriller.
3 potatoes out of 5