“The oblivion that we will be”, in the name of the father

The oblivion that we will be **

by Fernando Trueba

Colombian movie, 2:16

“We have become the oblivion that we will be” is a line by poet Jorge Luis Borges that served as the title of a book before it became a film. The one that Héctor Abad Faciolince, Colombian journalist and novelist, dedicated to his father. A tender family chronicle at the same time as the portrait of a man of virtue, a good father and a good doctor who, throughout his life, fought in the name of an ideal, that of access to care for the most poor, and will pay a heavy price in a country and city, Medellin, beset by violence and terror.

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A tireless human rights defender

This autobiography met with immense success in Spanish-speaking countries, where it became a bestseller, but had a smaller audience here (1). The adaptation made by Fernando Trueba for the cinema comes to repair this ignorance. Especially since the Spanish filmmaker was able with great delicacy and empathy to transcribe what made the beauty of the book, the look of a son on a father adored and admired and the tender memories of this united family of six children. , as much as the exemplary fate of this tireless defender of human rights.

Rather than a chronological adaptation, the film skilfully navigates between two periods. First that of the early 1970s, and childhood memories of the narrator, Quiquin, saturated with bright colors. Happy days, when the doctor in his pretty little blue car devotes himself to his task, that of teaching and fighting against typhus which affects poor children deprived of access to drinking water, then embarks all his little troop on vacation by the sea with the same good humor. “Your daddy thinks we can solve everything with happiness”, notes his mother while the first political pressures emanating from the conservative camp as from the Catholic Church are felt and an intimate tragedy awaits the family.

The tour de force of the Spanish actor Javier Camara

Then there is that of the end of the 1980s, when Colombia is delivered to the violence of drug traffickers and paramilitary groups, shot in black and white to accentuate its darkness. Considered in turn as a Marxist then as a conservative by the various powers and factions in place, the good doctor Abad was forced into retirement by the university which employed him for not having kept his tongue in his pocket and decided to withdraw. throw in politics. Quiquin, a literature student in Turin, then returned to Medellin without knowing that he was going to witness a second tragedy.

The Spanish actor Javier Camara, who has been seen several times at Pedro Almodovar and in the series Narcos, succeeds in the tour de force of embodying with great simplicity the humanity of this character of a lay saint, a mixture of tenderness and righteousness, while avoiding falling into too much sentimentality. “Billy Wilder once told me that virtue is not photogenic. I decided to make him lie! “, explains Fernando Trueba who manages with this pretty film to maintain a subtle balance between a bright and lively family comedy and the dramatic chronicle of a country plagued by violence whose political background unfortunately sometimes tends to escape us.


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