starring Alfredo Castro, Catalina Guerra, Paula Luchsinger, Diego Muñoz
written by Guillermo Calderón & Pablo Larraín
directed by Pablo Larrain
by Walter Chaw El Conde is the bitterest of farces: a satire of excess and great evil that uses vampirism as a blunt metaphor for the forces that sap places and entire peoples of their share of a nation's fortunes. Always timely, Chilean director Pablo Larraín turns his attention to his country's last bogey, Augusto Pinochet, who, with the support of the United States government, staged a brutal coup in 1973 and consequently ruled Chile with an iron hand until 1990. Among the disastrous programs initiated by his regime? Abolition of all trade unions--an act that seems specifically pointed, given the millions poured into this project by Netflix. The country's wealth tanked as Pinochet's exploded. At the time of his death in 2006, over 300 criminal charges were left pending against him. Larraín speculates that Pinochet staged his death to avoid continued persecution and is, in fact, a centuries-old vampire who once fed on the blood of Marie Antoinette. The image of a young Frenchman licking her blue blood fresh from the guillotine's blade is, in a tidy nutshell, critique of thaumaturgical contagion: hereditary wealth and power, distilled into the tastes of a vampire so smitten by the tang of royal blood that he steals the Queen's head and keeps it in a jar as a fetish object. When he seduces a young nun in the present day of the film, he first makes her dress up like Antoinette and is dismayed when she shows not just disinterest in the onanistic trophy he uses as a reference for her costume, but actual disgust.