The Student (El Estudiante) (2011) by Santiago Mitre
Heady political discussions and power plays that require your full attention. Gripping and challenging, this film offers an incredible insight into university politics in today’s Argentina. A must see.
At first sight, this could be a tale of initiation: Roque, a young man from the interior, comes to Buenos Aires to attend college; and right when he seemed only interested in meeting girls, he starts to get involved with politics and gets ahead in his career as a student representative. But, while focusing in the sole viewpoint of its lead character Roque, the film starts to unfold a vibrant story that opens up to different directions: utilitarian relationships, the pendular oscillation between ethics and betrayal, politics as a generational issue, the youthful urge for getting quickly ahead, the perspective of a future that could either reproduce a rancid and corrupt past or imagine a different future. Santiago Mitre has not only made a film that looks into the world of college –a place rarely visited by Argentine cinema, except for maybe Dar la cara–, he has also presented university as a mirror capable of reflecting social tensions by drawing a plot with a lucid and tireless drive for narrating Argentina. If the so-called New Argentine Cinema was ever defined as non-political, El estudiante is the most brutal and brilliant rebuttal to that fallacy: it’s not only new, but also indispensable.
[seen at a press screening during the New York Film Festival 2011, courtesy of The Once And Future Blonde]