Directed by Pablo Trapero
Argentina & South Korea & Brazil, 2008
Cornerhouse, 28 March 2010
It was Marc C. Bernard who wrote that all historical subjects should be conceived and treated as though they were the topic of a gangster film.
So too one might say that subjects in general could be matched with other genres of film
Lion’s Den is an instance of such an approach working to perfection; it is a prison film that is essentially about the bond between mother and child.
Julia (a terrific performance by Martina Gusman) is pregnant when she is sent to prison for murder; the actual details of her crime are fuzzy and it is possible that she is innocent. In prison she gives birth to a boy, Tomas, and is able to keep him for the time being, but she knows that when he is 4 he will be taken away from her.
In fact, Tomas is sent to live with his grandmother, the mother who had abandoned Julia when she was small. Julia needs to escape from prison in order to be reunited with her small son, and perhaps also to save him from her own fate.
Lion’s Den is a brilliant prison film, fast-paced, gritty and well-crafted. The story is told with real cinematic flair.