TL;DR – A film that spends a long time trying to find its voice but never quite gets there due to issues with the story.
Score – 3 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Warning – Depicts scenes of sexual abuse
I watched a lot of films that have had difficult moments to watch, today I look at a film that is filled with them. This makes it a film that is hard to unpack because it has a big barrier of entry. Today we will try to examine that difficulty as we explore The Prince.
So to set the scene, we open in on a scene carnage as a throat is cut and someone bleeds out on the floor. We then find ourselves walking through the dimly lit halls of a local jail. Jaime (Juan Carlos Maldonado) shuffles from one cell to the next before finding himself in the cell of Potro (Alfredo Castro) one of the jail’s patriarchs a place where safety and danger can be one and the same.
I should say straight from the start, that this is a very confronting film, indeed the opening scene might be a bit too much for people hitting almost as hard as the closing scene from The Lighthouse. Once we enter the jail this gets ratcheted up a notch even more with depictions of sexual abuse and rape which were difficult to watch. The guards are brutal, the danger that lurks in every location, the deprivation of any kind of liberty, and the loss of humanity. This makes it a film that I think will be difficult for a lot of people, indeed many most people.
From a production side of things, everything is shot well with lighting hiding or revealing in every moment. There is an oppressive gloom for most of the run time, but then there are these moments of shine. The music fits the moment and the film also knows when the power of silence works. A lot of the mood of the film comes from the setting and they found a good location in what I assume is an old jail that brings all that the story needs.
Which thus bring us to the story which is where the film was held back for me. Also given the nature of the film, exploring the story will mean engaging with some [SPOILERS]. The story is split in half, with first-half exploring Jaime’s or The Prince’s (as he is called) life in the jail and the second half cutting in places to see the build-up to what led to that murder. This structure never worked for me because jumping back in time interrupted the flow in the main story. As well as this, it never affected the story because we knew the outcome and it didn’t provide any real extra context to who Jamie is because by the time of the big reveal you already know that about him. One area where I think the story was really interesting was in the cyclic nature of the jail and the focus there could have been quite interesting, but it often gets lost in the shuffle.
In the end, do we recommend The Prince? This is hard to say. The film is well shot, well-acted, and has some moments when it shines. However, the difficult parts of the film make it very difficult for recommend due to their very nature. To add to this, the story does become frustrating in places, which is a real pity. If you liked The Prince, I would also recommend I am Jonas.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Prince
Directed by – Sebastián Muñoz
Written by – Luis Barrales & Sebastián Muñoz
Based on – the novel by Mario Cruz
Music by – Ángela Acuña
Cinematography by – Enrique Stindt
Edited by – Danielle Fillios
Production/Distribution Companies – Artsploitation
Starring – Juan Carlos Maldonado, Alfredo Castro, Gastón Pauls, Lucas Balmaceda, Sebastián Ayala, Cesare Serra, Catalina Martin & José Antonio Raffo
Rating – around an Australia: R18+;