Imagine you are a woman happily married. You love your husband, you have plenty of money, and you are fulfilled by your job. The only thing that is missing from your life is a child. Due to biological problems, you and your husband decide to adopt. So one day, your husband goes to the hospital and comes back with a beautiful baby girl. You take to her right away and don’t ask any questions about why you couldn’t come, who the parents were and why they decided to give her up for adoption. All of these questions melt away as you hold your baby. Five years pass and your child has grown up into a precocious young thing and she is still the light of your life. But questions start to pop into your head and you can’t make them go away… Would you find out the truth behind your daughter’s adoption or would you just accept your husband’s dismissals completely?
This is the problem that Alicia faces in The Official Story. Only I skipped over one important detail of the plot. This film was set in Argentina, just after a particularly brutal period in that country’s history. During this period the normal population of Argentina began to learn about the many misconduct and atrocities the dictatorship did to “subversives.” People were taken from their homes in the middle of the night, never to be seen again. Pregnant women were forced to give up their babies to couples who would never ask questions. Government sanctions entered into everyday life and big corporations. Total suppression and control were everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Alicia is representative of the wide population coming to terms with the atrocities the government committed. She is an every woman.
The woman who played Alicia was herself exiled from this regime. Norma Aleandro was deemed a subversive by the government and forced to flee her home country before the military could get their hands on her. This personal connection to the story informs her performance. A lot of Alicia goes through is internal emotions, practiced by so many years of holding things in. At first she is so naive that even her students that she teaches know more about her world than she does. But she needs to seek the truth, despite what her husband and nearly everyone else around her says. Through this journey, she is able to find the strength she needs to truly understand and change the world around her. After this film ends, I imagine Alicia joining the protests in downtown Buenos Aires. I imagine her speaking out and for the people who can no longer speak for themselves. At least that is what I hope happens.