“The Count” on Netflix: Pinochet’s Chilean dictatorship treated like… a vampire story!

Of Augusto Pinochetwe know, in Europe, the terrible dictatorship, strewn with terrible abuses — violations of human rights, kidnappings, torture, executions… — which he carried out in Chile between 1973 and 1990. It is less known that Chileans have constantly questioned, since his death in 2006, about the damage that he inflicted on his country and on the persistent traces, even today, of his horrible exercise of power. Specialist in the great figures who marked the 20th century, the Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larrain, to whom we owe, among others, the recent “Jackie” (Kennedy) and “Spencer” (Lady Di)this time attacks a notable character from his country and questions, with “The Count”, launched this Friday on Netflix, the consequences of this dictatorship in today’s Chile.

To do this, Larrain does not beat around the bush, imagining that Pinochet is not dead: in the film, he is a vampire born shortly before the French revolution and who, since then, has lived several lives, reborn after having drank the mixed hearts of his victims, which led him to Chile. The metaphor is beautiful: the bloodthirsty despot macres those he attacks – preferably common people – during nights of “hunting” of incredible violence.

Between terror and outrageous laughter

Monstrous? Yes, and as such “The Count” constantly flirts with the horror movie, but not only that: choosing the tone of satire, the filmmaker constantly makes us oscillate between terror and outrageous laughter. Especially when we discover that the voiceover which tells this story is none other than that of Margaret Thatcher, also a vampire, who arrives to prevent Pinochet from falling in love with a young girl called to take inventory of his property, but who in reality is an exorcist sent by the church to eliminate him.

In short, it’s a breathtaking story for almost two hours, full of twists and turns and bloody crimes… But during which Pablo Larrain paints an uncompromising portrait of a tyrant and his entourage. And everything goes wrong: narrow-mindedness of his children who want to receive the inheritance, petty jealousies of his relatives, attempts to take power in his place…

A unique and confusing film

The director does not spin the metaphor just once, multiplying the references to other figures of power (Louis XVI, Thatcher…) and to the political and economic situation in Chile today. It’s brilliant, which the jurors of the Venice Film Festival where “The Count” was in competition: Sunday, Pablo Larrain and Guillermo Calderon, co-authors of the script, left the Lagoon with the Best Screenplay Prize.

The film could have been rewarded with another prize, saluting its form. Because the sumptuous black and white setting composed by the great cinematographer Edward Lachman, to whom we owe, among other things, the sublime images of “Virgin Suicides” by Sofia Coppola, is a real eye-catcher and fully contributes to the success from the whole.

Just like the performance of the young Chilean actress Paula Luchsinger, renowned in her country as an actress in TV series and noticed this spring in “La Jauria”, who here plays in an astonishing way this exorcist nun who hides her game well. In the end, “ The Count” is a unique film, sometimes confusing, but very brilliant, of a genre that we don’t see so often on streaming platforms…

Editor’s note:

The count “, by Pablo Larrain (2023), with Jaime Vadell, Paula Luchsinger… 1 h 50.

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