Consisting of 78 minutes, 3 vaguely connected stories, and only 57 shots, Violencia is a strong debut, posing difficult questions and offering roughly zero answers. Not as consistently or directly about violence as its title might suggest, its three stories are all still connected by brief but life-changing instances of violence all highlighting corruption and kidnapping problems in Colombia.
The first third of Violencia follows one day in the life of a kidnapped man, led through the Amazon rainforest in handcuffs and a neck cuff by his captors. The second part follows a high schooler seeking employment, and the third follows a military man from his domestic life to a brutal workplace and back. Each character is given very few lines to speak, yet the acting of all three leads (Rodrigo Vélez,
David Aldana and Nelson Camayo) is profoundly communicative. Void of a non-diegetic soundtrack, careful attention is paid to every drop of rain and every crushing of gravel in the film’s sound design.
As suggested by its grand total of 57 shots, there are a significant number of long takes. Many shots seem somehow simultaneously very concise and meandering. They are shots which transmit a great deal of relevant background information marauding under the guise of useless excess. Every single shot in the film communicates at least one specific detail relating to character details or the grander themes which transcend the individual stories and connect the film as a whole. However, since these details are not highlighted on a macro level, it mostly comes across as unorganized albeit calm chaos.
Ultimately composed of quiet scenes simmering with the promises of violence unfulfilled, Violencia’‘s “raison d’être” is to bring a multifaceted discourse on understanding large, indirect, cultural causes of violence to the table. It’s up to us to dig in.Return to Our Berlinale 2015 Coverage
1 hour, 18 minutes
Rodrigo Vélez, David Aldana, Nelson Camayo