Post Mortem (2010)
Director: Pablo Larraín.
Starring: Alfredo Castro (Mario Cornejo), Antonia Zegers (Nancy Puelma), Jaime Vadell (Dr. Castillo), Amparo Noguera (Sandra), Marcelo Alonso (Víctor), Marcial Tagle (Captain Montes), Santiago Graffigna (David Puelma), Ernesto Malbran (Arturo Puelma), Aldo Parodi (Pato).
autopsy recorder falls in love with an older show girl but soon finds himself in a love triangle during the overthrow of the Allende government in Chile
A man looks out his windows onto a city street. Arms fire can be heard in the distance. The fellows looks a bit lonely and depressed -- a real sad sack. He goes outside to water his plants and wash off the sidewalk. A young woman in dropped off by a taxi. The man watches her intently and even walks into the middle of the street with his water hose still running.
The neighbor goes to see a can-can performance. The manager complains to the ticket taker that there are a few low-life scumbags in the theater. And he's worried about their being prostitution in the movie house. Nine women perform the can-can dance. The neighbor sneaks over to the side of the stage to get a closer view. Then he sneaks past the performers on the side-lines. He goes down-stairs to where the dressing rooms are. He hears the manager say to one of the dancers that she has lost too much weight and he is firing her. She says he better be careful of what he says because she is his top performer. He says she messed up and will no longer be the star of the cabaret. Her name is Nancy Puelma. She calls he manager a faggot.
The neighbor slowly sneaks into the room. The manager leaves the room. Nancy asks the fellow, doesn't he live across the street from her? She asks him his name. It's Mario Cornejo. She asks him: "See how some people just don't know how to treat me?" He asks her if he could take her somewhere? They are interrupted by the show girls who rush in to make a quick costume change. (brief nudity) Then the performers rush out of the room.
Mario drives Nancy around town. They stop for some coffee. Back in his car, the couple run into a demonstration. The demonstrators soon surround his car as they march by the car on the street. She sees a young man that she knows. She shouts out his name: Victor. He wants her to join him and the demonstration. He almost pulls her out of the car. The demonstrators shout that they are the Communist Youth of Chile! Mario can only sit there, powerless to move.
Flash forward. At the mortuary, they have the dead body of Nancy Puelma Olivares. The examiner says the cause of death was acute protein energy malnutrition. Mario is there and he records the information and then types up his report.
Back to the present. Now when Mario looks out his windows to the neighbor's house, there is no sign of anyone living there.
Mario goes back to work. The main examiner tells him that this woman was beaten to death. Mario starts to record this, but the examiner tells him to erase that.
Students watch the examiner performing an autopsy. Mario is there to take down the results.
Going home at night, the one female on the staff, Sandra, asks Mario if he would like to stop by her house tonight? Mario asks, didn't Dr. Castillo stop by her house the other night? He says he doesn't sleep with women who sleep with other men. Mario adds that it really wouldn't be right.
Mario parks his car near his house and sees a light on in Nancy's place. He fixes dinner for himself. He starts dishing some food on his plate when he sees two people, a man and a woman, go into Nancy's place. He grabs his umbrella and goes across the street. He knocks on the door. Victor comes to the door and Mario asks for Nancy. Victor then yells that someone's at the door for Nancy. A young boy comes to the door and tells Mario that his sister is not feeling well, as usual. The boy leaves and Victor comes over to ask Mario if he would like to come inside? Mario comes in.
It looks like the communists are meeting around a table talking about their planned activities. They formed a farm workers' federation. Mario just stands there as the people go on with their meeting. He gets bored after a couple of minutes and leaves the house without saying goodbye. He starts eating his dinner.
Nancy comes over to Mario's house says she has a give for him since she was rude to him. It's a bottle of rum. She says his place has the smell of cats and she hates cats. They are a common and suspicious animal. She asks him if she can one of his pictures on the wall. He says, sorry, no.
Nancy wears a house coat over her underwear. She open her house coat and shows Mario her bra and panties. She asks him is she looks too skinny? She does looks to bee a little too thin perhaps. Mario says that he thinks she looks really beautiful. She says she hates fat people. Mario replies that he is thin too. Nancy says Mario is a true gentleman.
Mario asks her if she would like the have something to eat? She asks him is he was expecting someone? Mario says, yes, you. He fixes her an egg with rice. She watches him as he eats. The woman starts crying. Mario isn't sure what he should do. He lets her cry for awhile. Then he starts crying. They both cry for awhile. Then they really start crying hard.
Mario has sex with Nancy. (some nudity)
Mario takes Nancy for a drive. They take a walk to a Chinese restaurant. Nancy wants to have Peking duck. As they sit there, Nancy asks Mario what is she going to do now? Mario says they could get married. She asks him to repeat what he said and he says would she like to be his girlfriend. She smiles partly because she doesn't really know her neighbor that well. In fact, she has to ask him his name again. She also asks him what work does he do? He will only say that he is a civil servant.
Mario goes to speak to Nancy's boss. He tells him that Nancy is a great artist. The manager ignore Mario, so Mario tells him that Nancy is his girlfriend. He says something nasty to Mario, so Mario breaks one of his glass frames. The manager comes over to Mario and says to him: "I'll put Nancy back onstage, but I get to keep your car. " Mario hands over the keys to his car to the manager.
At home Mario is in the shower. It sounds like a car stops in front of the house, people get out and all hell breaks out for awhile. By the time that Mario notices the noise and goes out to check on what happened, the street looks almost deserted. He goes over to Nancy's place and finds a glass window broken. He goes inside the house and everything has been been turned upside down. The house dog has been injured. Mario goes upstairs and finds a similar situation. He picks up a carrying case and puts the dog inside it. He then finds the keys to the automobile outside and drives off with the dog in the bag. He goes downtown to the theatre where Nancy worked. The area looks deserted, but there has been a lot of damage done to some of the cars outside the theatre.
He goes to his work place and it is filled with dead bodies. He looks at some of the faces of the dead. Mario then puts the dog in a box and places the box on a shelf in one of the rooms. An army officer questions Sandra Carreno. She says says she performs the dissections for Dr. Castillo. Mario walks over to them. The army may asks about Mario and Mario gives his full name and says he transcribes Dr. Castillo's autopsies. Dr. Castillo tells the army captain: "These are my trustworthy personnel, Captain." Sandra asks if she can go home now. The Captain says there will be a lot more bodies coming in soon. "A states of war has been declared and wars have casualties."
Alone at work, Mario telephones asking for Nancy Puelma who has disappeared. The person on the phone asks Mario to call back later.
Now Mario stitches the dog up. The army starts bringing in a truckload of bodies. The bodies are piled up on a cart. Mario has to move the bodies to a place in the morgue. One body falls of and Mario has to pick up the body. He then goes to see the Captain and says he doesn't know where his wife is. The Captain puts a phone in front of him and tells him to telephone his wife who is now probably at his house. Mario says the Captain probably is right. His wife is probably at home. The Captain asks the Colonel it it's possible for Mario to have a safe-conduct pass? The Colonel say that's no problem. The Captain then congratulates Mario: "You now serve the Chilean Army."
The three autopsy workers are now given army helmets and are transported elsewhere on the back of an army truck. Sandra removes her helmet. The workers are transported to headquarters. They are told that they will do an external exam on a body.
The doctor starts his external examination and Mario takes down the information. The body looks to be in a terrible condition. The top of the head appears to be missing. The doctor starts describing the various bullet holes in the body. Mario has a hard time working with an electric typewriter, so the army replaces him with its own typist. Now comes time for Sandra to cut open the body. She takes a knife but tells the doctor that she cannot do this. She is obviously very upset. She slowly walks over next to Mario.
The doctor takes the knife and, yet, he too can't bring himself to open the body up internally. He covers it up with a blue sheet. He says to the typist: "Conclusions: Male corpse, identified as Salvador Allende Gossens. Cause of death: a recent cervical-buccal-cranial-encephalic bullet wound, with projectile exit. The type of shot is what is known in legal medicine as 'point-blank range'. The shot could have been made by the person himself."
Mario goes home in the dark with the dog Pituca. When the dog gets out of the car, it runs over to its own house and goes inside. Mario goes looking for it. The dog starts crying. Mario turns on a light, but a voice tells him to turn the light off. It's Nancy and she has the dog in her arms. She asks why does her dog have blood on her? Mario says he fixed Pituca. Nancy asks where's her dad and David? Mario asks where was Nancy? She says when she got home, the house had already been blown up. She crawled inside. Nancy asks where was Mario? He answers that he was working. She asks Mario to find her brother and her father. Mario takes the dog from her saying he will take care of Pituca.
Mario fixes some food for Nancy and brings it over to her. He wants an answer about her being his girlfriend, but Nancy is preoccupied by her own worries, such as what it they return to the house? He says he will speak with them: "I have a position now." She goes inside.
In the morning Mario goes to work. He tells Sandra that Allende killed himself. She says: "He was killed, Mario."
The Captain now gives them directions on how they shall do short-cut autopsies on the many bodies piling up at headquarters. He then hands Sandra a bunch of labels for the toe tags. She is very upset, so Mario takes the labels from her. She steps in front of Mario and starts to kiss him. Mario just stands there and lets her go on.
The job of applying the labels begins. There are bodies everywhere. Mario pulls along the dead bodies through the corridors. He finds that one of the males is still alive. Mario gets some assistance from Sandra to take the body somewhere else to help the wounded man.
The work at the morgue takes a heavy toll on Mario. He looks miserable. In the morning he takes a radio over to Nancy, but she says it must be a radio run by batteries. And she reminds him to find her relatives.
Back at work it seems Sandra is falling apart. She wants to know what happened that brought all these dead bodies here, some of which she knows. She was just with a fine nurse and she is here dead. "Why is she here?" And why don't they just get this whole thing over and then the bodies would stop coming. "The people were here, alive, because I saw them!" She herself saved one of the men here and now he's heard dead. "What happened? Sons of bitches! Stop this at once!"
To get her to shut up, the Captain fires his revolver off into the ceiling. He then randomly shoots a few dead bodies.
Mario goes to check on Nancy and finds her and Victor naked together. Victor says thank you to Mario for his help and then asks him to bring them some food. Nancy says, thank you, neighbor. Mario is stunned and now he closes the door on them.
When he comes back, Nancy gives him a hand job and tells Mario to bring her some cigarettes. She then goes back inside. Mario zips himself back up. He goes and gets another piece of furniture and starts stacking it up against the big piece of furniture already there. And he brings three mattresses over and piles them on top of the furniture. The couple are now imprisoned in their hiding place.
Terrific movie. The action starts just before the overthrow of the Allende government, which was backed by the United States. It then continues into the hell of the overthrow of the government. Set against this background, is our shy civil servant who works to record the autopsy reports of an autopsy doctor. He falls in loves with his neighbor, who is an older show girl on her last legs in the business. He, however, does not fully realize that he's involved in a triangle love relationship. His world begins to collapse with the overthrow of the government, the pile up of dead bodies in the morgue and the travails of his love triangle. What will our poor Mario do? You might just be surprised.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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