[CFF 2022] THE ATTACHMENT DIARIES Review - A Haunting and Disturbing Web of Patriarchal Complexities
Breanna Lucci says The Attachment Diaries has themes that mirage today’s society, giving us a hazy glimpse into what could be our future.
[THIS REVIEW CONTAINS REFERENCES TO ABORTION AND SEXUAL ASSAULT]
Writer and director Valentin Javier Diment's beautifully crafted film, The Attachment Diaries (El apego), is a Queer thriller reflecting much of what’s happening in the United States with the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The 1970s Argentinian mystery thriller stars Jimena Anganuzzi, Lola Berthet, Marta Haller, and German de Silva. Diment weaves a complicated story around two troubled women fighting to take revenge on a society designed to crucify them.
In a country that bans abortions, Carla (Anganuzzi) is a homeless young woman seeking to terminate her pregnancy, a product of a brutal sexual assault. Carla finds an equally brilliant and cold doctor, Irina (Berthet), known for doing secret abortions out of her estate. However, because Carla is over four months along, Irina refuses to perform the procedure. Instead, Irina tells Carla her only option is adoption and promises to house her until the baby is born. The two become increasingly intertwined as hidden secrets and passions emerge from the shadows, leaving them fighting to survive their truths.
The story leans heavily on the impressive cinematography by Claudio Beiza and the notable artistic lens of Federico Mayol. This production team is thoughtful, ensuring every shot reflects the tone of each scene. Most of the film is in black and white with camera angles showing something mundane (like a glass cup or the railing of a staircase) in the foreground while the story unfolds behind. This technique makes audiences feel like trapped onlookers, constantly forced to squint to see the entire picture. With the 1970s timeline, the black and white approach elicits an older film experience while the careful, panning shots give a modern levity. This mixture provides an incredible feeling of modernness, which I can’t help but compare to today’s world.
Diment is crafty in his approach to this story. His dialogue is calculated and careful, leaving enough room for spaces to fill silently. Sex, sexual assault, and pregnancy are the foundational concepts of this film—even when they feel irrelevant, Diment finds ways to circle them back into the discussion. There is a burdening focus on the sexuality and value of women, which translates into a deep hatred of men. Women like Dominga (Haller) and Irina’s mother (Elvira Onetto) are older yet still heavily weighed down by the actions of the men around them. These fascinating complexities of a patriarchal world enforced by men and women reflect our society perfectly, which makes Diment’s ending beyond satisfying.
Anganuzzi and Berthet breathe life into Diment’s characters, giving Carla and Irina deep, intricate personalities. This film, while visually black and white, is deeply grey. Initially, Carla appears innocent, while Irina is portrayed as difficult and uncaring, but nothing is as it seems. These women are convoluted, good and evil, innocent and guilty, healthy and ill. Their portrayals and character backgrounds force the audience into the driver’s seat as we swerve through traffic, trying to understand how two people can be so multifaceted.
The slasher element of the film is intriguing but not nearly as powerful as the scenes leading up to the murders. The Attachment Diaries is haunting, upsetting, and deeply intertwined. It will keep you up at night as you try to untangle the web of complexities that Diment tangled together. His themes are alarmingly present in today’s media—their mirage gives us a hazy glimpse into what could be our future.
The Attachment Diaries was screened at the Chattanooga Film Festival on June 23-28, 2022.