Too Late to Die Young (Tarde Para Morir Joven)
With Pinochet gone, Chile began to look a different place. The early 90s brought the usual teething problems for transitional democracies, and in Latin America a desire to return to the pastoral emerged. Liberty became bound up with primitivism; emancipation was sought through the natural world. The city embodied a sinful place, a source of degeneracy and excess, wallowing at the summit of its authoritarian hangover.
Several families combine to set up a small community beneath the Andes: it’s a case of DIY, make-do and mend, hard graft for the fat of the land. We see the incipient commune through the perspectives of three children: teenage first loves Sofia (Demian Hernández) and Lucas (Antar Machado), and the younger Clara (Magdalena Tótoro). They’re always tracking, peeping and spying: on animals, adults and each other. Away from the seedy metropolis, the forest still harbours youthful sweaty tensions, evoking desires that taint even the noblest collective.
Domingo Sotomayor infuses scenes with great visual wit and elegance. Her compositions show the arousal and melancholy one expects from a coming-of-age tale. Yet anxious adolescence, taciturn adulthood and cacophonous childhood take on distinct resonance when presented as arboreal vices. Sofia, pristine and boyish, smokes with sullen naivety. Lucas, gutted and lovelorn, strums to conceal his jealousies. The still, silent wood is pierced by Clara’s playfulness: she’s often doing something funny with her movements, her hands, her face. Strangely, these characters remain opaque.
The music of the 80s lingers in its last forms. Sofia – the film’s magnetic, ambiguous centre – gives an accordion rendition of The Bangles at the New Year’s Eve party. She sings of flames everlasting, her expression unable to betray anguish. The grown-ups are vestibules of disappointment: on the periphery, half-there, bohemian, high minded, manipulative, emotionally bare. Sometimes, adults seem this way; sometimes, adults are this way. The democratic and artistic vanguard rarely encourages moral judgement, instead tempting fire and destruction. In a hot, sultry summer, it takes grace to weave through the smoke.
Too Late to Die Young (Tarde Para Morir Joven) does not have a UK release date yet.