Uruguayan films tend to be slow burners. The action —what little there is of it— unfolds slowly. The lives depicted are monotonous or hard. There is little place for glamour.
A dry tragicomedy, Whisky revolves around the unspoken relationships between estranged brothers German and Jacobo, and Martha, an employee at Jacobo’s decrepit sock factory. The gentle climax of the film take places in the mythical Hotel Argentino in Piriapolis. Probably one of Uruguay’s most well-known films abroad. Available on Netflix and Amazon.
Mal día para pescar (Bad Day To Go Fishing) (2009)
A washed-up prize-fighter faces his last bout in a back-water town where his only champion in his irrepressible manager. Gorgeously filmed with lots of drama. Trailer with English subtitles
The documentary-makers investigate five Uruguayan hits from 1955 to 1985, including Break it All (sic!), by Uruguay’s answer to the Beatles, and a protest song recorded in defiance of the 1970s dictatorship. I adore this film! This is the kind of investigative work that rarely takes place in a country where limited resources mean that social history is rarely documented. You’ll notice the younger generations have never heard of the earlier hits. On YouTube.
After a school-yard fight, Anina, a 10 year old girl, is given the “world’s weirdest punishment” – she has to hold onto a wax-sealed black envelope for a week without opening it. What happens if she can’t stand the suspense? An animated children’s film – for grown-ups too. Available on Amazon.
If you’re wondering, the public primary school uniform consists of white dustcoats and big blue pussy-cat bows, just like the characters wear.
Many of Uruguay’s films have been translated into English by a Canadian friend of mine and the subtitles are usually excellent.
Getting hold of Uruguayan movies
If you can’t find these films online, once you get to Montevideo, I recommend heading to the gift shop in the Solis Theatre where they have a great selection of Uruguayan films.
TEN Uruguayan films you must see?
Get the Guru’s recommendations for ten films you should check out as part of the fun planning your trip to Uruguay in The Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo on Amazon. This is our updated list from 2019.
[This article was first published on September 7 2015 and last updated at the date above]