State of Siege

State of Siege ★★★★½

There will likely never be any meaningful reparations made for the horrors inflicted upon the peoples of Latin America during the Cold War with the pretence of upholding liberty, fascism in the name of democracy the modus operandi of empire in times of crisis. Yet a group of Uruguayan dissidents operating beyond the incredibly restrictive sphere of political legitimacy take justice into their own hands in State of Siege, building a credible case against the political hegemony which they lay at the feet of an American ambassador who they have recently taken hostage. The film examines the tactics and methodology of imperialist repression in typically explicit detail, from death squads to smear campaigns, a sequence of flashbacks skilfully shot to evoke a documentary forming the basis of this ongoing trial. The portrayal of the central protagonists is uniquely illuminating, their discomfort at having to play the game of their oppressors demonstrating the inevitable hypocrisies that occur in revolutions, with violence against even the most malevolent opponents a morally laborious endeavour. The film does not always succeed in balancing its theatrical and academic elements, the effort to dramatise what is essentially a political diatribe occasionally coming at the expense of character. Yet it proves a powerful indictment of American influence in the Global South that is compellingly argued and powerfully illustrated, a cogent document that bears great relevance when attempting to understand the effects western foreign policy has to this very day.

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