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Imagining Argentina review

When Christopher Hampton's political drama was first screened at 2003's Venice Film Festival it drove critics to jeers. No surprise given its ham-fisted attempt to provide a real-life tragedy with a paranormal slant.

In '70s Buenos Aires, outspoken journo Emma Thompson joins the ranks of the `disappeared', dissidents abducted and abused by the fascist junta. Cue hubby Antonio Banderas' discovery of a sixth sense that allows him to trace her path via flamingos and owls. Flamingos? Owls? In an escapist chiller, maybe. But against a historical backdrop in which 30,000 were kidnapped and killed? Uh-uh.

At best, all this second-sight shite forms an awkward statement on the imagination's ability to ease the pain in terrible times. But at worst it's howlingly incongruous, as when Hampton cuts in harrowing scenes of Thompson and teen daughter Leticia Dolera being raped and tortured. The performances are credible, but if you want our advice, give your ticket dosh to Amnesty instead.

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