DVD Review: Wakolda (The German Doctor)

One of the lesser known scandals of World War II was the fact that many Nazis escaped to South America. It’s believed that some are still living there now. The Angel of Death, Josef Mengele, lived in Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil after fleeing Germany in 1949, until his death thirty years later. This was achieved through the support of regimes and powerful people. Not to mention the tacit knowledge of countless ordinary people. Writer and Director Lucia Puenzo struggles with what happened in Latin America .In the adaptation of her book of the same name, Wakolda, she tries to understand how something like this could have occurred.

A cultured and sophisticated doctor (Àlex Brendemühl) befriends a family who are opening a guesthouse in Patagonia. He seems particularly interested in the daughter, Lilith (Florencia Bado) and persuades her mother (Natalia Oreiro) to allow him to inject Lilith with a growth hormone, unbeknown to Enzo (Diego Peretti), her father. At the same time, he invests in a factory to mass produce Enzo’s dolls. When Eva gets pregnant with twins, he sees it as an opportunity to put his research into practice, but suspicions are being raised about his true identity and motives.

Wakolda is an impressive film which highlights a rather forgotten history of Latin America. Brendemühl is exceptional as Josef Mengele. He has a perfect balance of charm and creepiness, which captures the essence of someone, who despite doing horrendous things, was said to be cultured and charismatic. It’s well-constructed, with good performances throughout. What makes a monster? This is something yet to be answered.

Wakolda is released on DVD by Peccadillo Pictures on January 12.

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