A stylish and transgressive erotic thriller that is about as politically charged as any film can get today
With the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v Wade, it was a chilling happenstance clicking on Valentín Javier Diment’s latest The Attachment Diaries or El apego at this year’s Chattanooga Film Festival. Transpiring in 1970s Argentina, the film is the story of Irina (Lola Berthet) a successful yet closeted doctor who also runs an underground abortion clinic, which is one day is visited by a very mysterious and desperate woman, that changes her life forever. Carla (Jimena Anganuzzi) we discover is four months pregnant after having been sexually assaulted by a group of men. Due to the risks involved, Irina decides against the abortion, but she takes Carla in after making arrangements for her to sell her child to a wealthy couple. That’s at least the setup to one of the most stylish and transgressive erotic thrillers I’ve seen in the last decade, as their living situation sparks a bizarrely touching relationship between the two women.
Delving into some extremely dark and nihilistic corners to tell its story, the film somehow retains some sort of heart while trafficking in such extreme and taboo subject matter as rape, abortion, murder and revenge. This is thanks to the chemistry between Jimena Anganuzzi and Lola Berthet who give their all to these roles, that are not always particularly likable, but always grounded in some sort of emotional truth according to their characters. This all plays out in a lush world that uses the cinematography to even further how we see and experience this narrative, which is dizzying full of twists and turns. It’s a credit to Valentín Javier Diment’s script that even though he utilizes these very charged and socio/political plot devices; he never chooses shock over substance. But instead it uses these devices to construct this cage around the women, where men deny them agency over their own bodies and who they can choose to love.
The Attachment Diaries is about as politically charged as any film can get in this day and age, and it does so with an amazing amount of style and pause. It’s unflinching in its viewpoints and unwavering in its belief that part of the reason this is set into motion is because of this lack of choice that these women are presented with, which forces them down this path. It’s Valentín Javier Diment’s steady course that allows this film to carve out this love story that I found equal parts terrifying and endearing. The Attachment Diaries is a masterful exercise in tone and story that is equal parts shocking and empowering, which surprisingly never falters into simple exploitation. If you overlook the shock, Diaries is all about choice, and how when you take away or deny a human that basic right, love which comes in many forms will make you do some insane things.