'The Decorruption' ('La decorrupcion'): Film Review

La Decorrupcion Still H 2016
Courtesy of Cinema Tropical
A crudely made but sincere moral tale.

A government worker turns violent in her attack on entrenched corruption.

A straight-and-narrow worker is pushed to the brink in Maria Emilia Garcia's Decorruption, in which never-fulfilled promises to clean up governmental malfeasance lead to murder. Clumsy in several respects but clearly heartfelt in its disgust for the status quo, the Ecuadoran import is of interest stateside mostly to observers of Latin American politics.

Set in an unnamed nation that could stand in for any number of Central and South American countries, the film universalizes its plot further by giving corporations names like "Compania X" and calling characters "Comrade 35X," and so on. Our heroine, 31X (Angela Penaherrera), is a project manager in a government agency full of dead weight. When her boss tells her to ignore the law and give a contract to Company X, she leaks the story to the press. He's quickly fired, and 31 gets invited to work for a new Reconstruction Minister (Alfonsina Solines), who is bent on weeding out waste and ending bribery.

Hopeful, but having seen such characters before, 31 turns to a diary she has kept; according to her notes, it takes an average of 16 days for incoming reformers to make their first fateful moral compromise. Though acting out of pragmatism instead of greed, the new Minister fares little better.

Garcia and co-writer Charles Sutter offer a pretty schematic view of this latest disappointment, leaving their characters as underdeveloped as their names and dispensing with colorful subplots. The script is busiest in voiceover, as 31 bitterly chronicles the paths corruption takes into the halls of power. It takes nearly an hour for the action to push 31 to the point of violence (she goes full throttle once she's there), and little attempt is made to build breaking-point tension before that point.

With a cast and crew seemingly composed mostly of first-timers, the picture resembles a student film. But as an airing of grievances shared by so many in the Global South (both on this and the other side of the world), it has a from-the-source quality most more polished stories along these lines can't offer.


Cast: Angela Penaherrera, Alfonsina Solines, Danilo Esteves, Virgilio Valero, Andres Crespo, Cristian Naranjo

Director-Editor-Producer: Maria Emilia Garcia

Screenwriters: Charles Sutter, Maria Emilia Garcia

Director of photography: Leon Fernando

Production designer: Victor Centeno

Costume designers: Ma. Lorena Murillo, Valeria Garcia

Composer: Pablo Encalada

Venue: Ecuadorian Film Festival

In Spanish

76 minutes