History provided a resplendent context for simple domestic events in last year’s Latin American standout Roma. But in Dominga Sotomayor Castillo’s Too Late to Die Young – which also features a showpiece New Year’s brushfire – history rises up almost unseen like smoke and hangs in the air around the inhabitants of the Chilean rural commune where this film is set.
It’s set in 1990 just after the fall of the Pinochet dictatorship, and 16-year-old Sofia (Demian Hernández) is seeking a route out of the stifling inertia of the backwoods setup her father has chosen for her. A few ominous incidents – a dead horse poisoning the watercourse, a break-in – hint at the outside world encroaching, but the community’s dope-smoking adolescents barely notice. It’s unclear if anyone, not least the adults dithering about organising a power supply, has much appetite for the future.
Allegory - State - Chile - Castillo - Style
This might seem to be a full-on allegory about the state of Chile were it not offset by Castillo’s stubbornly oblique style. She sticks close to her characters without fully opening them up; incidents come into focus and drift pass half-forgotten, like a missing dog 10-year-old Clara (Magdalena Tótoro) is obsessed with. This wispy approach can be frustrating. The mood of deepening introspection, often lulled anachronistically by Mazzy Star’s Fade Into You (released in 1993), threatens to make the film dissipate completely.
Too Late to Die Young belatedly picks up a gear, centring on a New Year’s Eve party at which Sofia’s tousled-headed crush Lucas (Antar Machado) must come to terms with the...
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