With Alfredo Castro, Amparo Noguera, Héctor Morales.
Chile, 2008, 35mm, color, 97 min.
Spanish with English subtitles.
Print source: HFA
Pablo Larraín’s nimbly confrontational approach to history was first revealed in this controversial breakthrough film, a gripping and disquieting story of a machismo brute whose unhealthy obsession with disco dancing and John Travolta inspires his unnatural violence. A Stygian vision of late 1970s Santiago set largely at night and in dim, dank interiors, Tony Manero punctuates its literal and thematic darkness with flashes of vicious and unsettling black humor. Tony Manero was cowritten by Larraín and the film’s telegenic star, Alfredo Castro, whose uncanny resemblance to Al Pacino echoes the dancer’s manic imitation of Travolta’s eponymous disco idol and, by extension, the aggressive embrace of American free-market capitalism by the Pinochet dictatorship.