Poetry exudes from every pore of The Attachment Diaries (El Apeco), an Argentinian film with a unique look and unquestionably freaky vibes.
The first half of the film unwinds in austere high contrast black-and-white until a shift to a golden hued color scheme somewhere in the middle. There are brief opening credits, but the actual title card doesn’t appear until the 50-minute mark. It’s tantamount to watching a fashion ad come to life as a spooky nightmare.
Elements of the horror genre are blended with a psycho-sexual relationship set in a world of political upheaval.
The main metaphorical attachment is childhood trauma that’s been transferred to adults in both their personal lives and the regime that rules their world. In measured beats, and in some scenes all at once, political allegory, drama, and horrific mystery tropes merge with a frantic intensity.
1970s Argentina is a Dictatorship
Two women meet at an ad hoc fertility clinic in 1970’s Argentina. Dr. Irina, who runs the facility, takes in Carla as a patient. It’s not unusual for Irina to perform illegal abortions, but in Carla’s case she’s already in the second trimester and a perfect candidate to sell the future baby to a wealthy couple. Irina calls the shots; Carla must deliver a child in order to cover the costs of her servitude.
Lead players Jimena Anganuzzi (Carla) and Lola Berthet (Irina) are likely unknown to domestic audiences, but they leave a heavy impression with this film. You instantly want to see other films they’ve been in.
Carla is pregnant because she was raped by three men. El Apeco can be ugly at times. It’s a tough-love movie without a rehab option.
Director Valentín Javier Diment has helmed seven films including El Apeco and his early films would be a great future study.
I’m unsure whether to admire The Attachment Diaries more for its gorgeous atmosphere or its obstinate refusal to look away from the worst aspects of abortion, rape, torture, and murder.
Sex scenes and multiple stabbings are viewed with the same sense of nonchalant involvement. Violent scenes are boldly off-putting yet unquestionably compelling. The idyllic look of the film is in sharp disparity to what’s happening with the characters. There’s a whole subplot where Dr. Irina is boiling potassium sulfide to dispose of bodies.
At the end you awake from your cinematic stupor and thank goodness The Attachment Diaries is only a film.
The Attachment Diaries, from Dark Sky Films, is currently in select theaters.