Review: “El baile de la Victoria,” Fairytale or Nightmare?

by contributing writer, Tracey Chandler

New international co-production between Argentina and Spain features Oscar-winner Ricardo Darín

To seeEl baile de la Victoria,” (The Victory Dance) the most recent film directed by Fernando Trueba, may well make one think that this Spanish director has decided not to include the excessive sentimentality that the novel by Antonio Skármeta proposes and that instead he has decided to concentrate on creating a film full of exaggerated and unbelievable implausibility.

However, what a wonderfully powerful journey it takes you on if you are willing to ignore the high improbabilities. Indeed some of the scenes are so powerfully shot that the audience is tossed between fairytale and nightmare without restraint.

“El baile de la Victoria” is a tribute to love and friendship and is also a story of vengeance. The film takes place in Chile which has recently survived the Pinochet dictatorship when an amnesty was reached for those prisoners who had not committed crimes of murder.

Ángel (Abel Ayala) is a petty, pocket-thief, very sensitive and unconsciously idealistic. He tries to wipe from his memory the trauma of the abuses that he suffered in prison from the same big-time robber who it is thought actually committed the crime that Ángel was put into prison for.

The famous bank thief Nicolás Vergara Grey (polite and upstanding as ever, Ricardo Darín) benefits from the same amnesty as Ángel and both are granted freedom at the same time. In contrast to Ángel, Nicolás only thinks in returning to his former simple life alongside his wife (Ariadna Gil) and his son.

Things are made more difficult for the famous criminal once he meets Victoria (Miranda Bodenhofer, whose powerful stare fills the screen), a young mute, victim of the military dictatorship, who finds a way of expressing the love and bitterness that she has been hiding inside of her through ballet.

The winding narrative doesn’t delay in converting itself into something inconsistent, capricious and inexplicable and it doesn’t leave itself any other ending but one that tries to sustain itself in over exploited sentimentality, whether that reveal itself in the love between Ángel and Victoria or the deception between Nicolás and his wife.

However, if you are a fan of poetry, sentimentality and high emotion to the point of fantasy at times, then “El baile de la Victoria” will certainly give you that. It is undoubtedly a beautiful film, something crossed between a fairytale (that’s a little too sweet-toothed for some) and a nightmare that the audience knows is going to unravel from the very start.

For more information, visit the official website at


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