Blame It On Fidel


REVIEW by Harriet Robbins

Writer/director Julie Gavras' first narrative feature film, BLAME IT ON FIDEL (now out on DVD), brings a refreshing approach to the events of the 1970s as seen through the eyes and sensibilities of nine-year-old Anna ((Nina Kervel), who grows up in an affluent and conservative family comprised of her parents, Marie (Julie Depardieu) and Fernando (Stefano Accerei), her younger brother Francois (Benjamin Feullet), and her grandparents. The atmosphere at home is loving and comfortable, but there is a shadow lingering in the background: an uncle, living in Spain and fighting against Franco, is a communist. The family never speaks of him.

Things change radically when the uncle is arrested. Anna's parents rally to his side and back his struggle against the regime. They also take part in demonstrations in favor of things like feminism and free elections. Anna resists becoming involved, if only because she views life with childish logic. The changes in the family dynamic shatter her sheltered life; she has a difficult time in absorbing all that happens. We experience her fears as she is faced with the turmoil of the real world, swirling as it is with the political and social problems that affect us all.

Anna is growing; the changes in her personal life as well as in the larger world have a profound effect on her. She will eventually survive, managing to keep her personal values intact.

BLAME IT ON FIDEL is a must-see film. The innocent feelings of a nine-year-old keep you involved as the dramatic and volatile events of the 1970s pass before you. The story dramatizes in simple ways the important issues and catastrophies of the time. It's also told in a unique fashion.

Julie Gavras, daughter of famed director Constantin Costa-Gavras (Missing), has been handed the torch of enlightenment by him. She carries it proudly.