This post is part of the Remembering James Horner Blogathon hosted by Film Music Central
The 33 (2015)
Director: Patricia Riggen
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Juliette Binoche, Rodrigo Santoro, James Brolin, Lou Diamond Phillips, Mario Casas, Jacob Vargas, Juan Pablo Raba, Oscar Nunez, Tenoch Huerta, Kate Del Castillo, Gabriel Byrne
Based on the real-life event, when a gold and copper mine collapses, it traps 33 miners underground for 69 days. – IMDB
I’m going to be honest that I tend to avoid biographical drama in general. For one, I tend to like my entertainment far from reality and second, I tend to like my entertainment more light and fluffy or something that requires me to suspend belief or whatnot. I do have to admit that I was intrigued by The 33 when it was first released despite the genre that it falls in. The usual idea in these movies especially one based on a traumatic event is the personal stories and the devastation of the situation. The line to draw here it to make it believable and not so manipulative, which for the most part, The 33 does quite well. The stories here do feel rather genuine and while there were 33 men trapped in the mine, the movie focused on a few of them only, while also alternating to the rescue efforts on the surface, showing their families and government and the different faces of who is also pulled into the situation. It is a smart move to make sure that the stories don’t get too shallow and gives at least some characters their own depth and development.
With that said, there are some familiar faces here. The obvious leader of the pack in the movie and the movie is Antonio Banderas who plays as Mario who naturally is the glue and the one the men trust and is entrusted with the key to the food to ration for everyone. Antonio Banderas does a great job here. While I can’t say that I’ve seen Antonio Banderas in a whole lot of films, this is one that stands out to me especially when I always saw him as the slick and charming man but here is, given the circumstance of the film setting, rugged and devastated. We only get a few men down there with a spotlight, like Mario Casas as Alex Vega who has a pregnant wife to get back to, or Juan Pablo Raba as Dario, a recovering alcholic who spent his life being mad at his sister Mario, played by Juliette Binoche, for abandoning him and trying to find out how to make it work. Then you throw in the Bolivian who adds a bit of a social conflict in the group. In the parts of the 33 men trapped there, its hard to not feel devastated with them especially in the beginning when they don’t know whether anyone is going to save them and going through the roller coaster of emotions of hope and being hopeless and eventually feeling like they can get out. 69 days is a long time and its an honest miracle. I think the downfall of this is that somehow the emotional trauma of these men were never fully explored. However, you can argue that it took away from the emotionally manipulative angle and tried to just keep it real.
On the other hand, the surface characters included names like Juliette Binoche that I mentioned before. It was quite a surprise to see her here as she is a French actress. However, she is her stellar self even in a role like this as a worried sister waiting for her brother to come back. The same goes to Kate Del Castillo that plays Mario’s wife. Its a lot of characters to go through so despite focusing on just a few families, the plot has a hard time focusing on what is important and that takes away from how much we actually get to know these characters because how can we not care because The 33 was an actual thing that happened. Even if we knew the outcome, it still has its significance. However, adding into the surface mix is Rodrigo Santoro, who I’ve seen in a lot of movies in supporting roles as the Minister of Mining. In many ways, it seems his character gets the most development as he proves that he isn’t just talk to particularly Maria. The trials and failures and eureka moments from the surface were almost more devastating than the men that were trapped down there, as I watched the film.
This is part of the Remembering James Horner Blogathon so its a must to look at the score and it does a fantastic job. James Horner scores the piece knowing exactly when to use the subtle music to accompany the scene but also knowing exactly when to create the tension, the danger and of course, emotion. He does a fine job at it and I do love the score quite a bit.
Overall, The 33 is a sufficient biographical drama. It reflected the dangerous situation that happened, highlighted the social and political issues as well as the personal and emotional trauma that the whole thing brought up. There are some fantastic performances here that pulled at our heartstrings and it was properly devastating in some parts. The collapse at the beginning f the film was definitely the most effective part of the film as well as the revelation of how to learn from their mistakes. Its a pretty decent film even if its sheer indecision of what issue to focus on made it sometimes less poignant as it should have been.
You can check out my previous two years participation post for: