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Colony, The/Colonia


Stars: Emma Watson, Daniel Brühl, Michael Nykvist, Richenda Carey, Jeanne Werner, Julian Ovenden, Vicky Krieps, Steve Karier

Director: Florian Gallenberger

Despite being stickily acted in places, this is still an often suspenseful and exciting based-on-truth story with some grim and unpleasant undertones.

Set in the Chile of 1973, the film follows the fortunes of air hostess Lena (Watson), in Chile to rendezvous with her lover Daniel (Brühl), a firerbrand from Germany who has been swept up in the revolutionary cause, distributing leaflets and making speeches.

Awoken by a call warning them of a military coup, Lena and Daniel attempt to escape but, thanks to Daniel's insistence on taking pictures, they are rounded up. Lena is later freed, but Daniel is taken to be horrendously tortured at an interrogation room beneath the imfamous Colonia Dignidad, run as a mission to God by the unflinching lay preacher Paul Schäfer (Nykvist), who keeps men, women and children (whom he abuses) apart while running the colony along prison-camp lines.

On the side, he supplies arms and even chemical weapons to the military regimne.

Joining the cult to find Daniel, Lena toils in the fields, while Daniel himself, now posing as slow-witted Hans, works for the blacksmith. Even when they meet, escape seems impossible, but the discovery of a tunnel beneath the barn offers fresh hope...

The director keeps the tension mounting steadily at the climax to the action, cutting between fugitives fleeing desperately through tunnels, and the camp's guards, dogs and jeeps leading the search for them. Brühl is excellent as always, but the rest of the cast don't always carry the same conviction.

David Quinlan

Germany/Luxembourg/France 2016. UK Distributor: Signature. Colour (unspecified).
110 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 27 Jun 2016