A young woman infiltrates a religious cult compound that's secretly
a Chilean prison camp in order to save her detained boyfriend.
Directed by Florian Gallenberger
Written by Torsten Wenzel and Florian Gallenberger
Starring Emma Watson, Daniel Brühl, Michael Nyqvist,
Richenda Carey, Vicky Krieps, Jeanne Werner
Colonia is a brutally honest movie that uses the real-life horror of Chile's Colonia Dignidad to showcase the most dangerous aspects of religious belief. During the Pinochet regime in the 1970's, the Chilean government sent their most valuable political prisoners to a secret prison camp hidden underneath the isolated compound of a fanatical religious cult. This cult was led by a monster named Paul Schäfer, who doubled as an arms dealer to the Chilean government. This film tells the fictional story of two prisoners of Colonia Dignidad who escaped and aided in bringing the cult down. While the plot isn't historically accurate, its depiction of the cult is painfully accurate and makes for a tense, sad movie-watching experience.
Emma Watson delivers a powerful performance as Lena, the young flight attendant who tracks her revolutionary boyfriend to the Colonia Dignidad and joins them to save him. Throughout the film, she never loses her resolve despite their many attempts to break her. It's heartbreaking to watch her experiences in the cult, especially when she's finally reunited with Daniel, played equally great by Daniel Brühl. In the role of Paul Schäfer, otherwise known as Pius, the late great Michael Nyqvist shines in a truly evil performance. He's a sociopath obsessed with power and he lashes out at anybody weaker than him simply to remind them he's in control. It's difficult to watch at times because of Nyqvist's performance, but he deserves praise for it.
This film goes the extra mile to show us the secret horrors that were going on at Colonia Dignidad for over 40 years. Much like Titanic used a fictional romance with a real life backdrop, Colonia uses its two leads' love as a way to enhance the tragedies occurring around them. The end result is a great film that flew under everyone's radar but deserves to be seen. The world needs to understand what happened there, if only to ensure it never happens again.