The experiences of one mother provide us with a wider picture.


The title of Toia Bonino’s unusual short feature refers to the place where it was shot in Argentina, the Don Orione neighbourhood in Claypole in Buenos Aires Province. The choice of that title is significant: this film which features one Ana Robles sets out to tell the story of her son, Alejandro, but it does so in a way that suggests that it is a representative tale.


‘Ale’, as his mother calls him, never lost her love but grew up to be a problem child. His absences from school soon led to the realisation that he had found companions with whom he would go stealing and that drugs were involved too. When he left home, Ana had to find consolation in the fact that there was no gun in the backpack he was taking with him. However, Ale would be arrested, an indication of where his life was headed.


Such material could have yielded an effective conventional documentary with a voice-over telling Ale’s story and featuring interviews with family members and others blended in with home videos which latter items do indeed feature here. However, Bonino is concerned with life in the community, one rife with gangs and police informers and a distrust of cops generally which may well be justified. To express this Bonino gives us in Orione an impressionistic work in seven sections. Ana’s is the chief voice over but the camera concentrates more on her domestic life, her cooking in particular, than on her face. Furthermore, while Ale is seen in videos from the past the film includes quite a lot of footage which shows incidents akin to what happened to him but not necessarily directly related (there are scenes of police interrogation, of tattooing, of a police pursuit, of bodies in a mortuary).


Given the way in which it is assembled, this approach gives the film a very personal touch making it much more a director’s movie than is usually the case with documentaries. As an individual tale, it is at its most potent near the close when Ana forcefully expresses her emotions as a mother and in a printed text that we see addressed by Ale to his mother. Elsewhere one misses the details about the Robles family that a narration could usefully have suppled and, even though the film runs for not much more than an hour, there are sequences that seem overextended. Ultimately, despite its wide aims, Orione comes across as a rather slight work, but its individuality and its sincerity are not to be denied.




Featuring  Ana Robles.


Dir Toia Bonino, Pro Marcela Sluka and Toia Bonino, Screenplay Toia Bonino, Ph Toia Bonino, Ed Toia Binino and Alejo Moguillansky, Music Hernán Haye.

Boneco Films/Cine Argentino/Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales-ICA Films.
67 mins. Argentina. 2017. Rel: 23 November 2018. No Cert.