Terror, endurance, and ultimately joyful reunion: it’s an elemental story of survival against the odds, and one which The 33 tells well. After the initial collapse, the film cycles between the miners, their loved ones, and the ever-widening rescue team. The resultant contrasts between the subterranean gloom of the mine and the parched desert landscape above are stark but undeniably effective.
Antonio Banderas puts in an assured turn as Mario Sepúlveda, the de facto leader of the thirty three. Whether meting out rations or offering words of succour, his charisma rarely falters. Juliette Binoche is similarly convincing as Maria, the sister of trapped miner Dario, who refuses to be turned away from the mines’ gates.
Yet, for all the story’s power and the actors’ talent, the film feels underdeveloped. The dialogue could do with being sharper and more layered. Too often, you find yourself wanting to know more about the dynamics of the situation: about the relationships, in all their likely complexity, between the individual miners.
As the film goes on, you wonder also if it manages to communicate the sheer strain – both physical and psychological – that the thirty three, and indeed their friends and families, were put under. It’s by no means an easy film, but is it difficult enough?
What’s less in doubt though is the film’s respectful treatment of the disaster. Patricia Riggen makes no mistake of what’s so important and heartrending about the story, and her direction allows the fundamental resilience and deep camaraderie of the miners to resound.
|What||The 33 review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
29 Jan 16 – 29 Mar 16, times vary
|Price||£ determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here to go the film's IMBD page|