Netflix released the black comedy “The Count” by Chilean director Pablo Laraine. In it, the dictator Augusto Pinochet has turned into a 250-year-old vampire, who is still alive, but has already decided to die.
The film is actually the fourth of Laraine’s trilogy about Pinochet – “Tony Manero”, “Post Mortem” and “No”, but it is not officially considered part of it. The Chilean takes an example from the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, who later added “Dance, dance, dance” to the “Rat Trilogy” (“Hear the Wind Sing”, “Pinball” and “Chasing the Wild Sheep”).
In Tony Manero, a maniac obsessed with John Travolta’s character from Saturday Night Fever, set in the Chilean capital of Santiago during the Pinochet era, Post Mortem describes the life and work of an assistant pathologist during the 1973 military coup .
And the more life-affirming “No” tells the story of a PR expert who handled the advertising of the eponymous campaign in 1988, when the question of extending Pinochet’s presidential powers, ending his 17-year dictatorship, was being decided.
In “The Count” the action is transferred to the realm of the supernatural. It becomes clear that Pinochet is actually a 250-year-old vampire whose activities can be traced all the way back to the Old Order (the two centuries before the French Revolution).
He’s alive and hiding in his secret mansion, but he’s already dying – he’s sad about how life has turned out. Come on, it’s normal that they call him a murderer, but why a thief? It turns out that he really did pick up here and there, but it’s not his fault. They blackmailed him, they didn’t let him choose, well, he’s generally a victim, not an executioner.
Yes, everyone wants to go down in history, but go down with something good. They need to fix the paperwork, but they are so messed up that they have to seek professional help. Therefore, the nun Carmencita (played by Paula Luhzinger) arrives at the mansion disguised as an accountant with a secret mission. She is met by the dictator’s wife Lucia Iriart (Gloria Münchmeier), his personal servant Fyodor Krasnov and the grown children who are only looking to get their hands on the inheritance.
Krasnov is a very curious figure – fanatically loyal to his master, a former white immigrant who has devoted his life to torturing and murdering communists. This “Cossack of Vodka and Steel”, as he is called in the film, who walks around in a tailcoat and sometimes with an earring, is brilliantly played by Alfredo Castro, who invariably starred in the previous films of the Pinochet trilogy – “Tony Manero”, “Post Mortem” and “No”.
There is also a French trace in “The Count” – as a young future vampire under the name Claude Pinochet, he served in the army of Louis XVI and even after the revolution stole the guillotined head of Marie Antoinette. The English accent is also in the voice-over announcement that British blood is the tastiest because it has a flavor from Ancient Rome.
During his directorial career Laraine has repeatedly dealt with historical figures – “Neruda”, about the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, “Jackie”, about the first lady of the USA Jacqueline Kennedy, “Spencer”, about the life of Princess Diana.
But now, on the 50th anniversary of Pinochet’s coup, the director is for the first time replacing sympathy with anger. If his previous biographical films are full of tender feelings, then “The Count”, where there are more historical figures than meets the eye, is all woven of understandable hatred (both for what he did, but also because he is practically not suffered no punishment) and with some regret that the guillotine is forever cutting off the heads not of those who deserve it.
As it seems, the explanation received ten years ago has not lost its relevance – under Pinochet, Chileans have not had the opportunity to adequately express their essence in creativity for almost two decades, so now they are looking for revenge. That is why Laraine’s trilogy was called “unintentional”.
It is a funny coincidence that the film has the same name as a Charlie Chaplin comedy – “The Count” (1916), but actually continues the tradition of another – “The Great Dictator” (1940).
He, as it were, crucified Pinochet in different directions – he mythologized him, elevated him to the rank of supernatural, ridiculed him, demoted him to a simple and largely elementary old man, for which Jaime Waddell helped him tremendously. He is one of the most recognizable faces of Chilean cinema and TV. Along the way, Laraine finds a funny rhyme and connection vampirism – fascism (in both cases there is a fixation on blood), so it ends up being a wonderful cocktail of Wes Anderson, Armando Iannucci and Taika Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows. For this mix of witty ideas, “The Count” won an original screenplay award at the Venice Film Festival.
As a bonus, Laraine’s film is one of the most beautiful and stylish of the year. The great cinematographer Edward Lackmon, who has worked with Todd Hynes, Sofia Coppola, Steven Soderbergh, Wim Wenders and Paul Schroeder, films a cloaked figure flying over Santiago at night and ripping out human hearts, which he then makes into a smoothie. And to top it off with Vivaldi’s background music.