The 33 (Patricia Riggen, 2015): USA|Chile

Reviewed by Joshua Borja. Viewed at AFI FEST 2015.

Patricia Riggen brings us this true story of 33 workers stuck in a Chilean mine, and the efforts it took to free them. This harrowing film tugs on heartstrings, while it simultaneously keeps us at the edges of our seats.

Antonio Banderas takes the lead role in the film as Mario, the miner selected by the others to ration their food. Almost each character has something to lose, which drives them throughout the film. For Mario, it is his wife and daughter. For another, it’s retirement, which is two weeks away. Another, it’s his wife and the son or daughter they are expecting any day. This emotional factor plays heavily into our sympathy towards these characters, and we become invested in their freedom.

The film also gives plenty of attention on what happens outside the mine. Rodrigo Santoro gives a strong performance as Laurence Golborne, the government official desperate to get the miners out at any cost. The film also focuses on the miners’ loved ones as they wait outside the mine waiting to be reunited with the men inside.

What really made this film special to me were the incredibly strong performances, and the sound. Each crack, shift, and boom the mine made in this film was especially thunderous, and vibrated me to my center, which I’m sure the mountain did. Sitting in the theater and feeling that was incredible.

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