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[El Mudo] A judge, a father, a man

[El Mudo] A judge, a father, a man

Three years ago the Cannes Film Festival revealed the Vega brothers thanks to Octubre. They are back with a new movie, El Mudo. The silent quest of an incorruptible judge facing his own mortality.


Constantino Zegarra, known for his merciless authority is the victim of an accident, which forces him into silence. The police investigation concludes it was caused by a stray bullet. However, Constantino is convinced that someone tried to eliminate him. He will then lead his own investigations, which will lead him to go too far and cross the limits imposed by his duty. From that plot the directors wanted to show their vision of Peruvian society. The morality of this cold and distant man is the centre point. All through the movie, trials and tribulations keep questioning the judge’s ethics. If the hero is silenced so quickly, it is no coincidence. The film-makers wanted to show how a character can be physically, emotionally and, above all, ideologically destabilised by the loss of speech.

An authority figure facing his morality

This feature film takes its strength from the hero’s unlikely progress. The judge truly is the keystone to this investigation into the depths of Peruvian magistracy. Right from the introduction, the spectator is facing a character who is, apparently, lacking humanity. Part from the image of justice, it is the patriarchal figure which is questioned by the film-makers. Indeed, the two main locations of this criminal investigation are the judge’s office and the family environment. In each of these two worlds, an alarming and paranoiac atmosphere is palpable. Constantino is alone against everybody.

An unequal movie

The lack of consistency and expressiveness of the film cast a gloom on the story. Diego and Daniel Vega’s will to favour the investigation to the detriment of family life depreciates the whole approach. The directors try to put forward the comical dimension to punctuate a sluggish plot, they work on a risky blending of genres. The result is lukewarm, if the figure of the antihero, deserving his fate, runs its effect, the clumsiness of this mixing of genres reduces the interest of the movie. The main actor’s performance, Fernado Bacilio, places great emphasis on expression. Everything goes through him.

The questioning on the paternal and authority figures also question the foundations of Peruvian justice. The movie seduces by its construction but gives us a glimpse of some of its limits. Daniel and Diego Vega offer a mysterious quest where silence and paranoia are kings. El Mudo, a silent portrait the Peruvian society, which, unfortunately, only arouses a slim curiosity.

François Boulard

Marie Colin – Translation

Fiche technique
Film & Réalisateur: El Mudo de Daniel et Diego Vega
Pays : Pérou-Mexique
Année : 2013
Durée : 86 minutes
Première diffusion : Mercredi 20 Novembre à 14h au Katorza