Garage Olimpo (1999)
Director: Marco Bechis.
Starring: Antonella Costa (Maria), Carlos Echevarría (Felix), Enrique PiZeyro (Tigre), Pablo Razuk (Tex), Chiara Caselli (Ana), Dominique Sanda (Diane), Paola Bechis (Gloria), Adrián Fondari (Rubio), Marcelo Chaparro (Turco), Miguel Oliveira (Nene), Ruy Krieger (Francisco), Marcos Montes (Víbora).
Argentina, late 1970s. Militant activist Maria is grabbed by the Argentinean army, taken to the Garage Olimpo and tortured. Her torturer turns out to be one of Maria's neighbors Felix, who not only knows Maria but is in love with her. Maria's only hope of survival is to establish a relationship with her torturer.
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire movie.
Argentina, late 1970s. A young girl named Ana sits on a bus. She is going to visit her friend in an apartment building. There are a number of guards with automatic weapons at the front door of her friend. The girl friends start to study together, but the visitor excuses herself for awhile. She goes into a bedroom and takes out of her large handbag a detonator and a pipe bomb. She places the two items under the bed. She hooks up the pipe bomb to the detonator. The detonator will explode the bomb when someone sits on the bed depressing the underside of the bed down onto the detonator. The girl returns and tells her hostess that she wants them to go see a movie.
Flashback. Maria, the daughter of Diane, earns her living in the barrio by teaching adults to read and write. She lives with her mother in a large house. Her mother takes in boarders. One of the boarders is the shy Felix Rocha. He is in love with Maria, but she does not want anything to do with him.
One day a group of men with pistols descend on Diane's home. Diane asks who they are and the leader flashes an I.D. card saying that they are with the Argentine army. They handcuff Maria, Diane and one of the boarders to the stair railing, but they only take Maria with them in one of their cars. Diane tries to stop them from taking her daughter, but she cannot. After they leave with Maria, Diane runs to get her pocket book and then runs down to the local police station.
Maria is taken to the Garage Olimpo. On the top part is the parking areas for cars and trucks along with an office. Maria is taken downstairs and then into a room with a very low large table. She is told to remove all her clothing. Then she is hooked up to an electric shocking machine. She is tortured so that she will give the military names of other radicals so they can also be taken into custody.
Diane reports to the police that army men grabbed her daughter without any explanation. The policeman gives her a hard time acting as if she does not know what she is talking about. For instance, he asks: "How do you know they were from the army?" While Diane is at the station giving her report, a woman comes in inquiring about the whereabouts of her husband who was also snatched by the army. The police are of little or no help. Later Diane talks with the woman and they join together to compare notes on their situations.
Maria has received a little too much electrical shock and the torturer is afraid that she might be dying. He rushes for help. The boss comes in and gives her heart an electric shock which brings her around somewhat. Another torturer comes in to work on her. Maria recognizes him as Felix, one of the boarders in her home. Felix is shocked to see Maria there. He starts to give her preferential treatment.
The army gang captures another radical. This one ran out onto a soccer field while a game was in progress. He is brought in and he and Maria are handcuffed to a fence in the garage. The army fellows start to rough up the male captive, asking him to name names and/or locations. After receiving a location the army guys take the fellow and Maria with them to the location. As they knock on the door of the apartment the army fellows and the two captives are pushed up against one of the walls. The army squad tells their captors who they are and the captors release them. They all work for the same terrible side. While the two groups of bastards are comparing notes, the male captive jumps out of the window of the room. It is a height of multiple stories and we can assume that the young man died.
Many of the captives are used as a source of prison labor. They give Maria the job of cleaning the floors of the torture chamber. Later an army captor tries to rape Maria, but he is stopped by Felix.
Diane's new found friend pays her a visit at her house. She tells Diane that a foreign journalist wants to talk with them. But Diane tells her that she cannot go right now because she is busy with an important task. She sells her house to one of the army men for a very low price. After the sale is complete she turns over the money to the army guy. She has done this because she wants to get her daughter out of trouble. The army man drives her to a meeting place and Diane starts to get out. Before she can straighten up completely the army guys shoots her twice in the head killing her. Meanwhile, Diane's new friend is being tailed very closely by a car full of army torturers.
Felix has set up a cell with a few comforts and has Maria sit with him. He wants to be intimate with Maria but she is not very responsive. But as he starts to leave she grabs him and gives him a big kiss. (She wants to stay alive and avoid torture, so she tries to please Felix enough to keep him protecting her.)
One day Maria and other captives work on the army cars. When one of the army fellows leaves, he leaves the garage door open. Maria runs for the door and tries to make a get-away. But Maria is quickly brought back by the army fellow who yells at her for trying to escape. He forces her onto her knees, counts to ten and fires his pistol close to her head on ten. Maria, frightened to death, screams, but she lives.
A group of captives are drugged; forced onto the back of army trucks; and driven out to an air field.
Back to the present. The head of the torture unit returns to his apartment. He is greeted enthusiastically by his daughter and says hello to Ana. His daughter asks to go to a movie with Ana and he agrees to let them go. When the torturer is alone in the house he decides to rest on his bed. When he sits in the center of the bed the bomb explodes with a loud sound.
Felix takes Maria out of the torture prison for a change of pace. She swings on a swing. She also tries to call her mother a couple of times, but there is no answer at her home. Felix and Maria go to a cheap hotel and have sex. Later Maria tries to escape from Felix but he catches up with her. Back at the prison Maria is drugged and placed on the back of an army truck with many others. They are driven out to an air field. There the drugged captives are put in the back of a transport plane. The airplane flies out over the Atlantic ocean.
In the military dictatorship of Argentina, between 1976 and 1982 thousands of citizens were thrown alive into the ocean.
Good movie. Disturbing, but good. My DVD did not have English subtitles and only a few sentences in French with Spanish subtitles. I have been studying Mexican Spanish, but I only caught certain words and phrases now and then. But I think the above is probably pretty accurate as to what happened. Damn those right-wing military dictatorships.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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