The Colony: Film Review


This thriller, which has been renamed from Colonia in other countries, has been doing the rounds since the 2015 Toronto Film Festival and has finally come to U.K. shores. It hasn’t fared very well critically and isn’t expected to get many bums on seats, which is why I’m here to tell you to give it a shot – it really isn’t as bad as other critics would lead you to believe.

Emma Watson plays Lena, an air hostess in a relationship with Daniel (Daniel Bruhl), a German in Santiago, Chile who helps protesters opposing General Pinochet in the real-life coup in 1973. He is kidnapped by Pinochet’s secret police and tortured at a prison underneath the Colonia Dignidad, a religious community run by German Paul Shafer (Michael Nyqvist). Lena joins the cult to find Daniel so they can both escape, but they soon realise leaving Colonia is harder than they imagined.


What I like most about this story is that the political setting and the Colonia Dignidad are real. I had never heard of this community and couldn’t believe what happened there – the men and woman are segregated, they must work long hours, and be subjected to abuse at the hands of Shafer physically and sexually. It is brutal to watch at times but according to director Florian Gallenberger, what went on there was much worse that what was shown in the film. The Colonia was also in cahoots with Pinochet, provided the military with weapons and held their prisoners, so everyone else kept quiet about it.

I found the whole plot exciting and tense, especially when they neared their escape plan. Sure, for a while, watching Lena go about her daily chores began to get tiresome but at least they were building to a crescendo. The script wasn’t great, and some of their lines were cheesy in the beginning, but I liked the story and was rooting for their survival. Both leads did well, although nothing remarkable, and Nyqvist was terrifying as Shafer. I don’t really know what everybody else’s issue was with this movie. Perhaps they wanted more focus on the cult than the separated lovers? That’s a point, the cult is the most interesting aspect, but I like that we were given a love story to invest in.

In cinemas now 

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