<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Patricia Riggen. Starring Antonio Banderas, Rodrigo Santoro, Juliette Binoche, Gabriel Byrne, Lou Diamond Phillips, Oscar Nunez, Juan Pablo Raba, Naomi Scott, Bob Gunton, Mario Casas
Running Time: 2 hours
With The 33 you get what you expect and even though it’s touching at points you’ve seen it all before done far better.
Based on the true story of 33 miners buried under a mountain in 2010 in Chile’s Capiapo, this film will obviously not have a surprise ending since the outcome is well known. But what you do go to watch is the story of their survival and how they broke under pressure or persevered above it.
All of them have families, people who rise up and fight the evil private mining company to rescue them. Chile’s government steps in to help with Rodrigo Santoro’s Minister of Mining Laurence Golborne at the helm. At first it is a PR exercise but soon Laurence makes it his personal mission to save the men who have little hope of being pulled out. This is in part to the aggressive and passionate pleas of Maria (Juliette Binoche) whose brother Dario (Juan Pablo Raba) is trapped beneath the rubble.
As you can expect, the film shuttles back and forth, above and below ground. Antonio Banderas’s Mario Sepulveda is the leader of the band of men who ration out their supplies, fight off their insecurities and fears, quarrel, band together and have collective hallucinations about a grand feast served up by their loved ones in what is an extremely peculiar and comical scene.
There’s nothing really new here though. At the point when the drill reaches the men I thought the film would be over and an end credit would detail what happened next. But it proceeds to show us that that was just the beginning of the struggle. They could get Nike shoes, a video projector, iPods and several clothes in to the men, but couldn’t get the men out. For 69 days they lived in their living ‘tomb’.
While there were points in The 33 that I felt emotion well up, those were soon displaced by some strangeness like the miners talking to their loved ones on projections on the wall as if they were on some space station. Another distracting element was the presence of white actors playing Chilean characters with poor local accents. Only Juliette Binoche, old and wrinkled though she is now, managed to stand out with her performance. Banderas is his usual good self. Nothing new or challenging for him here.
PS: For men eating barely a teaspoonful of tuna everyday, they seemed to have retained their muscle mass awfully well through the ordeal.