Hermanas (Sisters) (2005)
Director: Julia Solomonoff.
Starring: Valeria Bertuccelli (Elena Levin), Ingrid Rubio (Natalia Levin), Adrián Navarro (Sebastián Morini), Nicolás Pauls (Martín García Solís), Milton De La Canal (Tomás Morini), Horacio PeZa (David Levin), Mónica Galán (Marta Levín), Eusebio Poncela (Luis Morini).
remembrances of the excesses of the military dictatorship in Argentina brings sisters to fighting
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire movie.
Walnut Creek, Texas 1984. Elena Morini and Natalia Levin from Argentina are sisters who have been separated for some eight years. Natalia has been living in Spain with their Aunt Sarita and Elena in Texas. Elena has a husband Sebastian Morini and a young son Tomi. Natalia is coming to Texas for a ten day visit with her sister.
At home Natalia tells Elena that their father David Levin was working on a novel entitled "In the Shade of a Paradise". From Argentina their mother Marta Levin calls the sisters. She tells Natalia that people are coming back to Argentina since the end of the military dictatorship. Mom adds that Clara, Martin's mother, wants Natalia to be a witness for Conadep. Clara is with the mothers (of the disappeared ones).
Flashback. Nine years earlier. David Levin writes a column for a newspaper. Natalia tells her sister that it is an honor for dad to be laid off by the fascists.
Back to the present. The sisters go bike riding to a local lake. Elena asks about Paco, Natalia's latest boyfriend. They broke up. Elena tells Natalia that she does everything she can to make sure she is alone. Later Natalia talks to Elena about the police grabbing her boyfriend Martín who was later killed. Natalia wants to know how the police knew where to find Martín. Her sister wants her to forget about the past, but Natalia cannot do that. Natalia starts reading her father's novel and tells her sister that a character exactly like her (Elena) is in the book.
Curious about the novel, Elena reads the entire novel during the night. She cries at the ending. She grabs the last few pages and tears them out of the manuscript so Natalia will not be able to read them.
Flashback. Elena's father has been fired recently from the paper. He talks with Elena and expresses some doubts about her marrying a graduate in Physical Education. Elena defends Sebastian by saying that he will be a professor.
Back to the present. Natalia finishes reading the novel and wonders where are the last pages. She asks her sister who responds that maybe Dad just didn't finish the novel. But Natalia knows that is not true because her father had told her that he always wrote the ending first and then the rest of the story.
Flashback. Sebastian knows Martín from soccer. Martín is a terrible soccer player, but Sebastian sees him almost like a brother and stands behind him.
Back to the present. Natalia learns that back in Argentina they found a tutor at San Jose, a collaborator with the military. Natalia talks with Martín's mom Clara about what is her impression of Uncle Luis Morini. Clara says that Sebastian's uncle is a political reactionary. On the television there is criticism of President Ronald Reagan for referring to the Soviet Union as an "evil empire".
Flashback. Martín and Natalia are working with poor children and families for the University Youth Movement. Sebastian does not like the fact that they are combing charity work with radical politics. This brings him into direct conflict with Natalia and Elena has to intervene to calm things down.
Back to the present. Natalia thinks Uncle Luis Morini was the one who ratted on Martín. She is determined to get to the bottom of the matter. Later she babysits for her nephew Tomi and is absolutely shocked when he refers to her as a terrorist, a montonera. She explains to her nephew that she was the one who named him Tomas. She also explains that she could not visit the family in Argentina because of the military dictatorship at the time.
Flashback. Natalia works with a group of radicals on a botched radical operation in which one of the group has to shoot a guard below the knee for the gang to get away. She cuts her hair short so she will not be recognized by the authorities. Her sister Elena tells her that she is pregnant. Later Elena is shocked when she sees undercover police beat and arrest a pregnant woman. She turns to Uncle Luis for help with the matter but with little success.
Back to the present. Natalia discusses the fates of Martín and their father with Elena. The police had come to their house in Argentina to grab Natalia, but she was not there at the time. So the police just arrested the father. The police found Martín in Los Paraísos. Martín disappeared while Uncle Luis got their father out of jail because of his contacts with the police.
Flashback. Elena discovers a hiding place where Natalia has hidden revolvers. She is very angry and tells her sister to get rid of them. But Natalia stops Elena by saying that she will tell their parents about her loose sexual behavior with Sebastian. Uncle Luis says that he'll get Dad out of jail.
Back to the present. Elena confronts Natalia about telling Tomi that she (Natalia) had given him his name. Natalia explains that the name was Martín's secret war name and Elena becomes even more furious. Natalia strikes back by talking about Tomi calling her a terrorist. Later Natalia meets a second-hand store clerk who seems to like her. And still later Clara calls Natalia to confirm that Morini could have very well been involved in Martín's arrest. It seems that the tutor talked.
Flashback. Dad tries to stop Natalia from taking off in a motor boat to see Martín. He wants her to get out of Argentina and to Spain as fast as possible. Natalia goes anyway only to see Martín being arrested.
Back to the present. Elena is upset about Natalia continuing the investigation into Martín's disappearance. Natalia asks her sister why is she so upset about this matter. At a party given in Natalia's honor by her sister, Natalia tells the guests that Argentina was just another military dictatorship supported by the American CIA just like Guatemala in 1954, Chile in 1973 and Nicaragua at the present. Elena complains to Natalia about her revealing to the neighbors that their father was black-listed and that Natalia is anti-American. The second-hand clerk shows up at the party and Natalia and he kiss. The next day Natalia cries to Elena about their fighting. Finally Elena tells her sister that she was the one who ratted on Martín.
Flashback. Uncle Luis tells Elena that she must tell him the whereabouts of Martín. He says that Martín will not be harmed because he has a powerful family, but that if her father doesn't get out of jail soon, something drastic will happen to him because he has no powerful family. He also adds that Elena is the only one who can save her father. Scared for her father and assured that Martín will be alright, Elena later calls Uncle Luis to tell him where Martín can be found.
Back to the present. Natalia goes for a long automobile drive.
Flashback. The family gets the very upset Natalia out of Argentina and to Spain.
Back to the present. Natalia calls her mother to tell her that she is coming home to Argentina. Her brother-in-law Sebastian is also upset about learning that it was his wife who turned in Martín to the police.
Elena drives Natalia to the airport. At first it looks as if Natalia is going to leave without reconciling with her sister, but she turns to hug her sister.
Good movie. The film tells the political tale of some of the horrors under the Argentine military dictatorship, while also including a mystery of who was the person who ratted on Natalia's boyfriend Martín leading to his disappearance (with disappearance being synonymous with death). I was able to guess that the sister was involved in ratting on Martín, but my wife did not.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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