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Eight-year-old Ana, stoic and quiet approaches her father's bedroom where she hears a woman in bed with her father, confessing her love for him. Descending the stairs, she spies an attractive middle-aged woman, hastily dressing and rushing from the bedroom to the front door of the darkened house. The woman and Ana exchange glances but do not speak. Once the woman has left, Ana enters her father's bedroom and finds the man dead, apparently from a heart attack. As if not really understanding the gravity of the situation, Ana unflappably takes away a half-full glass of milk, which she carries to the kitchen and cleans. In the kitchen, she sees her mother, who chides her for being up so late and sends her off to bed.Reality and fantasy swap places. The bizarre death of Ana's father, who will prove to be a Fascist military man, is real. The apparently banal appearance of the mother at the fridge, on the other hand, is in fact fantasized by the grieving child. Ana's mother is already dead; her image is only a fanciful illusion of the little girl's mind. Blaming her mother's illness and death on her father, Ana has dissolved a mysterious powder she believes to be a potent poison in his milk glass as a willful act of murder. Her belief in the power of the poison is thus confirmed when her father dies. (Her mother had told her years ago to throw out this powder as it was poison. It turns out it is simply baking soda.)At the wake of Ana's father, she sees again the mysterious woman she had previously seen fleeing her father's bedroom on the night of his death. The woman, Amelia, is the wife of her father's close friend and fellow military officer. Ana's satisfaction of having rid herself of her father's presence is short lived, for her mother's sister, her Aunt Paulina, soon arrives to set the house in order, turning out to be every bit the cold authoritarian Ana's father had been. The all-female household is completed by the children's grandmother, mute and immobile in a wheelchair, and the feisty, fleshy housekeeper, Rosa.Ana takes refuge in the basement, where she keeps her 'lethal' powder, and where she is watched by an apparition of herself from twenty years in the future. The adult Ana, looking exactly as her mother, recounts her infancy: 'I don't believe in childhood paradise, or in innocence, or the natural goodness of children. I remember my childhood as a long period of time, interminable, sad, full of fear, fear of the unknown'.The little rituals of everyday life fill Ana's days during her summer school vacation. Tortured by the memories of her mother's illness, Ana rebels against her aunt's authoritarian style, and in bouts of loneliness she variously imagines her mother's continued presence, or even her own suicide. Though diverted by the presence of her two sisters, Ana's only truly close companions are the family maid, Rosa, and her pet guinea pig, Roni, whom she discovers dead in his cage one morning.Ana’s mother's painful death from cancer; her father's presumed murder, her guinea pig's death and her own imagined suicide weigh on the girl's mind. Ana even offers her grandmother, ill and using a wheelchair, the opportunity of dying and ridding herself from loneliness by providing her a spoonful of her poison. The old woman turns down Ana's offer as the old woman realizes that the powder is simply baking soda.The adult Ana explains the notion of the mysterious powder that the child Ana had so dearly coveted: it was nothing more than bicarbonate of soda that her mother once told her was a powerful poison, so powerful that one spoonful would kill an elephant. She further explains her motivation in wanting to kill her father: "The only thing I remembered perfectly is that then my father seemed responsible for the sadness that weighted on my mother in the last years of her life. I was convinced that he, and he alone, had provoked her illness."Ana, still believing that she has murdered her father, attempts to poison her aunt with the same powder. She repeats the preparation of milk with the mysterious substance, but the next morning awakens for the first day of school to find that Paulina is still alive. Ana and her two sisters leave the lugubrious family compound and march into the vibrant and noisy city that has all but been shut out from their world up to this point.
DVD : 2007-08-14