By Don Simpson | April 11, 2012
Director: Pablo Larraín
Writer: Pablo Larraín
Starring: Alfredo Castro, Antonia Zegers, Amparo Noguera, Jaime Vadell, Marcelo Alonso
Pablo Larraín’s Post Mortem functions as an eerie exploration of the 1973 Pinochet coup in Chile. Mario (Alfredo Castro) is a dutiful transcriber of autopsies at a morgue. His lanky frame, grey hair and colorless skin lend him the air of lifeless being — a fitting appearance for someone who finds himself surrounded by the trail of dead left in the wake of Pinochet’s hostile takeover of Chile. Mario lurks unassumingly, like a transparent apparition whom people see right through; such as when he wanders totally unnoticed into Nancy’s (Antonia Zegers) dressing room at the neighborhood theater.
The object of Mario’s creepy affection, Nancy is a sickeningly thin burlesque dancer who lives across the street. Mario’s social awkwardness reveals just how disconnected he is from the living world; in fact, it seems Mario exists in complete denial of reality. In Mario’s warped mind, Nancy is his ideal mate with whom he will live happily ever after, irregardless of the horrors Pinochet is inflicting around him. During Mario’s first “date” with Nancy, he begins to bawl (in one of his rare showings of emotion) because he does not know how to react to Nancy’s tears.
Post Mortem remains exposition-free; we are often left to wonder about the motivations of the characters. We do learn that Nancy, though apolitical herself, is very loosely affiliated with a group of political activists who have been openly protesting Pinochet’s coup. Eventually, Nancy must go into hiding and Mario obediently serves as her protector. All the while, Mario becomes employed by Pinochet’s military. In both instances, Mario is just a pawn; draining any resemblance of meaning from his life, thus leaving him even more lifeless than he was 90+ minutes earlier.