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The Independent Critic

Francoise Arnoul, Carla Cristi, Daniel Gelin, Sergio Hernandez, Percy Matas
Raul Ruiz
100 Mins.

 "Dialogues of the Exiled" Review 
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Patterned after Bertold Brecht's Refugee Conversations, Raul Ruiz's Dialogues of the Exiled is a semi-documentary set in Paris that examines what it means to live in exile from Ruiz's native Chile. Dialogues of the Exiled is about a resistance movement, and it is about how those in the resistance live their lives once they are removed from the conditions they have resisted.

Dialogues of the Exiled chronicles the conversations of Chileans exiled living in Paris, centered around a key event of the "kidnapping," in the most casual sense of the word, of a Chilean musician (Sergio Hernandez), whose exile more resembles a sense of relief at being amongst brothers in a safe, intentional community away from oppression. The first film that Ruiz, himself exiled, made after fleeing the Pinochet dictatorship for Paris, Dialogues of the Exiled is a raw and gritty yet decidedly low-key low-budget film that many consider to be the first film in Chile's cinema of resistance.

The ensemble cast is stellar throughout, though special kudos must go to Hernandez's portrayal of the "kidnapped" musician who is transplanted to Paris. It's worth noting, however, that Ruiz's incorporation of real exiles, rather than actors, gives the film a Soderbergh-like authenticity that gives the film its documentary feeling. So, too, Ruiz refuses to ever take the easy route in the film. While the film has a certain poetic feeling to it, Ruiz frames it realistically and with an almost disturbing lack of comfort and sympathy. In some ways, Dialogues of the Exiled brings to mind the story of Anne Frank. However, in lieu of inspiration and/or any attempt to have characters that bond with the audience Ruiz instead remains faithful to the spontaneous, unpredictable and uncomfortable nature of life in exile.

In Spanish and French with English subtitles, Dialogues of the Exiled has been digitally restored from film and is being released by those extraordinary folks at FACETS Video as part of their dedication to preserving rare and vital cinema. Indeed, Dialogues of the Exiled is rare and vital and as timely now as it was when first shot in 1974. The DVD also includes an exclusive 20-minute interview with Ruiz about the film, an extraordinary glimpse inside a revolutionary film.

Dialogues of the Exiled will be released on home video April 27, 2010 and is currently available for pre-order on the FACETS website.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic