“Por Tu Culpa” takes on Child Abuse

By Tracey Chandler, contributing blogger

“Por tu Culpa,” directed by Anahí Berneri and starring Erica Rivas, as the mother (Julieta), and Carlos Portaluppi as the father (Guillermo), is an interesting Argentine flick that will either leave the cinemagoer feeling a little cheated and unsatisfied or lightly relieved after an hour and a half of relatively low, but constant, tension. The film tells the story of a mother (Julieta) with two children, one of about 10 years and the other roughly about 2 years old. The children fight amongst themselves, as most children do, whilst their mother is trying to maintain the house, maintain the peace and finish her work online.

Separated from her husband, the film begins with instant disappointment for both the children and the mother who are all waiting for the arrival of the father, Guillermo, who is supposed to be returning from an international business trip. Julieta has work to do and the children want to see their father. When Guillermo phones to say that he has missed his flight and won’t be arriving to collect the children that evening, Julieta has to try and finish her work whilst the children are left to their own devices in the other room. An accident occurs and all three leave for the hospital which is the start of a dark nightmare concerning the welfare of the children with the hospital starting an investigation into whether Julieta has been maltreating her children or not.

The entire film is cloaked in a heavy film of worry and suspense. Lots of close-ups are used to focus in on the fear and preoccupation of the mother as the situation at the hospital gets worse. Julieta is shown doing a variety of silly things, making the audience fear that the situation is going to get worse. However, they are really only silly things, reflective of a mother who is extremely tired and in need of the support from the absent father. Having said that, the ending does suddenly just arrive and after such a slow and constant build up of tension throughout the entire movie, it’s possible that some audience members might feel a little unsatisfied.

Depending on individual taste the final scene may appear empty or, in contrast, just as tense and in-keeping with the rest of the film that a more perfect ending could not have been found. In short, this is a film that both ignites every mother’s nightmare and acts as an example of Argentine cinema by playing with the portrayal of real life in real time. The pace of the film is incredibly important and is also the factor that will either pull you in entirely or frustrate you to such a degree that it becomes laughable. This is a film that you should see if only to decide in which of the two categories above you fall into.

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