The Colony is based on the true story of the infamous Colonia Dignidad which was a cult-cum-utopia in the south of Chile for Michael Nyqvist’s character Paul Schäfer – who plays the sadistic leader with political ties that run deep with Pinochet’s secret police.
There’s no doubt that a major attraction to this film will be to see Emma Watson. After the Harry Potter series she is following in the footsteps of former co-star Daniel Radcliffe in re-inventing herself from the geeky but loveable Hermione Granger. Luckily, The Colony provides a decent enough platform for her to continue to do just that.
Alongside Daniel Brühl, whose standout role was as the highly celebrated Nazi sniper Frederick Zoller in Inglourious Basterds, the pair fit together adequately. Although there is a slight absence of on-screen passion from both parties this doesn’t taint the film. Their relationship simply adds an emotive depth and air of connectivity for the viewer. Both Watson and Brühl navigate their way through the film in a convincing manner, especially when Watson first enters Colonia Dignidad and Brühl is being tortured. Their performances are solid in what is a challenging script where humour is missing and a convincing range of emotion – from the extremes of happiness to the depths of melancholy – is a necessity.
The majority of the film is based around Lena (Watson) infiltrating Colonia Dignidad and trying to rescue Daniel (Brühl), a role that sees her becomes the knight in shining armour, which is refreshing and unexpected. This element of the role alone probably attracted her to Florian Gallenberger’s thriller due to her personal passion for women’s rights and views on feminism.
We follow Lena as days in Colonia Dignidad become months and months become years before Daniel realises that Lena’s in the same camp. Then the dramatic escape ensues.
Gallenberger is effective in shaking the snow-globe in regards to tempo. What starts off as a generic love story comes abruptly to an end when the fearless Daniel is captured and taken to Colonia Dignidad. The atmosphere changes rapidly to something sour and tainted – which is great.
Nyqvist’s performance is brilliantly awkward and deranged, if he featured more the entire feel of the film would have been blacker, and he would have eclipsed both Watson and Brühl in performances alone.
The Colony is riddled with tension and suspense; an underlying theme of grotesqueness is reflective of the Chilean period during the coup in 1973. If there is an embodiment for societal injustice in South America, Colonia Dignidad captures this in one campsite and we’re taken on a journey to see it with Lena and Daniel.