Melina Leon’s magnificent monochrome style sizzles for a delightful debut with “Song Without A Name” highlighted by elegant, entertaining cinematography. However, it lacks the oomph one would expect resulting in a “Roma” repeat.
Based on true events and set in Peru during the late 1980s, an indigenous woman Georgina (Pamela Mendoza) has her newborn baby whisked away moments after giving birth. Unable to see her child, Georgina is constantly bogged down by a corrupt, indifferent legal system only to discover a startling systemic web of phony clinics abducting children. Deep from the inside, Georgina soon realizes and recognizes the devastating political turmoil plaguing Peruvian society.
Melina Leon makes a lasting impression with a distinct debut “Song Without A Name.” It’s an amazing accomplishment and seems like a harrowing hybrid of Oscar winners “The Official Story” (Directed by Luis Puenzo) and “Roma” (Directed by Alfonso Cuaron). The unflinching surreal story sheds light on one of the tragic parts of Peru’s history and without a doubt echoes surface-level comparisons with “Roma.” On a deeper level, the parallels with “The Official Story” recognizes child-trafficking and abduction through manipulation in every frame making you wish this was only a bad dream. Sadly, this period piece in Latin America emphasizes the devastating destruction decimating 3rd world countries that is often overlooked and dismissed.
The excruciating evidence and despair of these tragedies throughout the world, especially Latin America, are brought to the forefront with a new exquisite voice by filmmaker Melina Leon. Considering the film was nominated for the 2019 Cannes Camera d’Or and winner of more than 30 international awards, Leon’s emerging talent absolutely must be witnessed with “Song Without A Name.” Thankfully this film has not been put on a pedestal. The hype hindered “Roma” for me and I hope most can look beyond the surface comparisons, most obviously the childbirth & corruption storylines and B&W cinematography. However, there’s nothing wrong with comparing cinematography as Inti Biones holds his own. The work here is comparable to Emmanuel Lubezki’s with “Roma” and Lukasz Zal’s for “Cold War” with phenomenal photography in subtle black & white.
“Song Without A Name” is uniquely spoken in Spanish and Quechua with English subtitles. The beautifully shot drama definitely deserves your attention and try not to focus on comparing to “Roma” too frequently, otherwise you won’t enjoy it as much. The multi-layered movie should exceed expectations and will certainly tear at your soul. Director Melissa Leon and cinematographer Inti Biones are remarkable revelations!
3 out of 4 stars.
PREMIERING IN FILM MOVEMENT’S VIRTUAL CINEMA ON AUGUST 7, 2020
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