Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet is a 250-year-old vampire, tired of life, who wishes to end his days after the crises and scandals he has caused.
In this week of the fiftieth anniversary of the coup d’état that brought Augusto Pinochet to power in Chile, Pablo Larraín presents on the Netflix platform El Conde (The Count) a delirious vampire story where the bloodthirsty dictator takes on the features of a vampire 250 years old.
Winner of the Screenplay Prize at the Venice Film Festival with his accomplice Guillermo Calderón, Pablo Larraín (No, Neruda, Spencer, Jackie) imagined a fantastic universe in which General Pinochet is a former royalist worshiper of Marie-Antoinette, who fled the France during the Revolution before finding refuge in Chile.
Some 250 years later, undermined by scandals, the deposed dictator (Jaime Vadell) wants to end his life. Hired by Pinochet’s children, who can no longer wait for their inheritance, a young French-speaking nun (Paula Luchsinger) tries to seduce the old vampire to better exorcise him. Even as his faithful servant (Alfredo Castro) hatches a plot with his wife (Gloria Münchmeyer). And the astonishing narrator with a British accent ends up intervening in the story.
This incredible satire, which exudes dark and offbeat humor, was shot in black and white in an almost Bergmanian aesthetic, with a hint of South American magical realism. As if Béla Tarr abandoned herself to a purely sardonic story or that Carl Theodor Dreyer had imagined a strategic and calculating Joan of Arc.
However, it is Gaspar Noé’s Irreversible that we spontaneously think of at the beginning of the film, due to a horribly violent scene which announces a gory work. Indeed, blood spurts when hearts freshly extracted from dying bodies are sent to the mixer, for an unsavory power shake, with extraordinary rejuvenating properties.
Larraín’s direction, meticulous and careful, dictates the rhythm of a story that is less contemplative than the Chilean filmmaker’s previous, more traditional filmed biographies, about Jackie Kennedy or Lady Diana Spencer, in particular. The symphonic and lyrical soundtrack lends itself perfectly to this particularly cynical dystopia, coupled with a family fable about corruption, avarice and greed.