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‘Blanquita’ review: Bearing false witness?

Difficult to watch; too compelling to turn away.

Blanquita, Chile’s Official Oscar entry for 2022 for International Best Film Category, is based on the Spiniak Case of 2004 that divided public opinion in Chile. Blanca (Laura Lopez) is an 18-year-old resident of a foster home. She soon becomes the key witness in a child sex scandal that involved wealthy businessmen and powerful politicians. As the trial dragged on, more questions were asked leading everyone to question what role did Blanca really play in everything.

The film delicately takes on a very combustible topic. The vivid testimony of the victims is frank. These moments are unsurprisingly emotional as writer-director Fernando Guzzoni astutely places the focuses on words instead of visuals. There is a sensitivity to Blanquita that is powerful, yet still understanding of what the children went through.

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This results in a story that can be difficult to watch due to the subject matter, but is too compelling to turn away from at the same time. The script is constantly building suspense. Since she comes from a life of abuse, herself, Blanca fights hard to defend children against those who have the money and power to get away with it. Audiences will find it easy to cheer for her, not just because she is on the right side of the argument, but because the passion she puts into everything she does.

Which makes it all the more shocking when it turns out she may not have been completely honest. At this point, Blanquita goes from a court case thriller to one that requires trying to piece together what is and is not true. The patient pacing of the first two acts noticeably speeds up, leading to some moments not having the impact that was probably intended. Still, the movie is moving look at abuse and power dynamics.

Blanquita opens in theaters in New York and Los Angeles December 9

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