Submitted by Julio M

Oscar Winner – Best Foreign Language Film

Short pooper:

Although not openly revealed, Alicia (Norma Aleandro) becomes convinced -and it is clearly inferred- that Gaby (Analía Castro), the daughter she adopted with Roberto (Héctor Alterio), is, in fact, the daughter of a “desaparecida” -a woman who was forced to give birth under military coercion but, then, her baby was given to another couple, while the birth mother was made to disappear-; this, especially, after her acquainting with Sara (Chela Ruiz), who shows her a picture of her own disappeared daughter and she looks identical to Gaby. When Alicia confronts Roberto about the truth of Gaby’s origin, he still tries to brush it off, but then, later, he notices the absence of Gaby and, when Alice throws back on his face “how painful it is to not know where your own child is”, he savagely attacks her, infuriated. The girl was actually just visiting her grandmother; however, having figured everything out, Alicia leaves Roberto.

Longer version:
Alicia’s reencounter with longtime friend Ana (Chunchuna Villafañe), where Ana confides the tortures she suffered at the hands of the Dictatorship’s henchmen, including her knowledge of pregnant women forced to give birth, only to have their babies given to other couples and themselves be made to disappear -a common occurrence amongst men and women perceived as a threat to the Military Government of the time-, arises Ana’s suspicions about the true origin of her adopted daughter, Gaby. Furthermore, she inquires Roberto about it and, while he swears “the girl’s adoption process was clean and legal”, his attitude towards the matter suggests he is being secretive and dismissive.

Meanwhile, an incident at the school where Alicia works, involving a student trying to raise awareness of the state of things and a fellow teacher, Benitez (Patricio Contreras) stopping her from admonishing him -which would put him at risk of being targeted by the Dictatorship-, makes her wonder how in touch with reality regarding the rampant ongoing violations she has actually been, the whole time. When she decides to investigate birth records for Gaby, she comes across a lady belonging to the activist group, ABUELAS DE LA PLAZA DE MAYO, named Sara, who shows Alicia a picture of her own pregnant daughter, a “desaparecida”, who happens to look exactly like Gaby.

In turn, Roberto faces his own ordeal due to the fact that, in order to preserve his status and keep his wife and daughter safe, he was shown a certain level of allegiance to the Dictatorship, in detriment of the relationship with his own family -all against the regime- and the safety of many of his co-workers, which start disappearing themselves; even Ana scolds him for causing her arrest, years prior.

While Gaby is not around, Alicia brings Sara over to introduce her to Roberto, but he angrily forces the woman to leave -it is obvious her presence touches a nerve, regarding Gaby-. Then, Alicia questions him once more about the origin of Gaby in their lives, to which he reacts by brushing off the questions, showing concern with Sara’s coming to their house and alluding that “Gaby is better off with them as her parents, anyway”. It is then that he realizes Gaby is not in the house and demands to know why; Alicia, becoming dejected with the idea that her husband basically enabled the destruction of a family and lied about it all along, wryly answers “how it hurts to not know when your own child is”. In response, Roberto goes berserk and beats her and breaks her hand against a door -showing that he was in touch with the vicious torture methods used by the Government-, even though she claims Gaby is all right and just with her paternal grandparents.

The phone rings; it is Gaby, actually calling from the grandparents’ house, which stops Roberto. The girl asks for her mother, so she can sing to her a nursery rhyme she liked -“EN EL PAIS DE NOMEACUERDO”-. Once the phone call finishes, Alicia, having come to terms with everything that happened, tearfully leaves her keys behind, grabs her purse and walks out the door, visibly leaving Roberto forever. In the end, Gaby is seen sitting on a rocking chair, still singing the rhyme to herself.

01 hours 52 minutes