Country: Costa Rica
Original Title: Presos
Director: Esteban Ramírez
The Costa Rican Football Team was founded in 1921 and since then, became the most successful team from Central America and among the best from CONCACAF.
Costa Rica has five qualifications for World Cup in total. They reached the Round of 16 in the first attempt, in 1990, and were out after the group stage in 2002 and 2006.
The last World Cup, in 2014, they were in the “Death Group“ and would have to face three World Champions, entering the World Cup as the least favorite to reach the knockout phase. Four titles for Italy, two titles for Uruguay and one for England, seven titles in total against modest Costa Rica.
The first match was against Uruguay, a 3-1 win for Costa Rica. The second against Italy and they won again, 2-1. The last was a 0-0 draw against England.
Costa Rica reached knockout stage with the first place in the Death Group, one of the most amazing surprises in the history of the tournament. The next opponent was Greece in the Round of 16, and they won again, this time on the penalty shoot-out.
The amazing run stopped in the quarter-finals, after holding a 0-0 draw against the powerful Netherlands, they lost on the penalty shoot-out.
The Costa Rican team of 2014 became an example of why we must not count on the win before the match, the team we always remember when talking about favoritism in football.
In the 2014 World Cup, names like Keylor Navas and Joel Campbell stood out. Campbell played for Arsenal after the World Cup, but never achieved the same success of the World Cup.
Keylor Navas is the starter goalkeeper for Real Madrid since he arrived in 2014, being three consecutive times the champions of the UEFA Champions League.
Sometimes criticized by the media, saying Real Madrid need a better keeper, but the truth is that he already saved Madrid in crucial times, I saw it with my own eyes (through the TV at least).
According to Costa Rica’s Ministerio de Justicia y Paz (Peace and Justice Ministry), the prison population in Costa Rica grew by 50 percent from 2005 to 2015, making the penitentiaries overcrowded, what caused Human Rights violations (Source).
In 2015 there were 35 thousand people in the correctional system as a whole and more than 14 thousand of those are incarcerated. While the prison population grew, the penitentiary system didn’t, resulting in facilities incapable to properly hold these individuals (Source).
At the end of 2017, the total Prison population was more than 19 thousand individuals, a rate of 374 per 100.000 inhabitants, fourth highest in Latin America and 19th in the world (Source).
Before all that, in 1975, Víctor Ramírez directed a short documentary called “Los Presos”, showing the deplorable conditions of those living in the Antigua Penitenciaria Central (today, Museo del Niño).
Víctor Ramírez is the father of Esteban Ramírez, the director of Presos (Imprisoned). The documentary is mentioned in the ending credits as an inspiration to the fictional movie.
The documentary is available on YouTube:
The scenes set in prison was filmed in the Centro Penal Puesto 10 (Correctional Facility Station 10) with the participation of the inmates.
With all this context given, it is also important to say that the movie isn’t just about the inmates, but also about the relationship between inmates and the society in general, represented in the movie by the middle-class family.
It’s a nice movie, very humane and with moments of light fun and others of seriousness. Being a look at the Costa Rican society, but also say a lot about the reality in many other countries.
The young student Victoria (Natalia Arias) get a job with as a personal assistant of John Jairo (Alejandro Aguilar). While answering calls for her boss, she meets Jason (Leynar Gomez) an inmate in the San Rafael Correctional Facility and the two begin a friendship through the phone.
Leynar Gomez played Limon in the series Narcos, and as I said before, Narcos is one of my favorite series and I really liked his acting in both roles.
Victoria has a boyfriend, Emanuel (Daniel Marin), but since the beginning of the movie, we can see that he is not great as a boyfriend. He dismisses the importance of her work, convinced her of drop out school, and so on.
The abusive relationship Emanuel have with Victoria is not as easy to identify as someone who beats or screams at the partner. Emanuel manipulates Victoria and those around them with the mask of “a good man”, who control with soft words instead of a slap with the back of the hand.
The abusive nature of their relationship is so subtle that I guess some people might even have some sympathy towards the character of Emanuel, but I saw enough unhealthy relationships to identify it as such.
A recurring topic in the dialogs throughout the movie is happiness not being something that we find in a romantic relationship, but something we have to find within ourselves. Especially in the case of John Jairo and Victoria’s sister Priscila (Jennifer Sánchez).
Talking about family, Victoria’s family seems to be a common middle-class family, religious and with their prejudices and expectative that cannot be challenged.
One thing most people seem to forget, people deprived of freedom have families too, in the case of Jason, a mother, and a younger brother. Both care for him very much and have a huge admiration for him.
Jason is doing time for killing someone while drinking and driving and is less than a year away from being released. He likes to dance and have a good heart, as we can see from the way he and John Jairo met.
For Emanuel and Victoria’s mother, it doesn’t matter who is this Victoria’s friend or what lead him to where he is, it only matters that he is a prisoner, even though the prisoner is a better person than Emanuel himself.
The preconceived ideas of a good part of the society are like that, even being a despicable individual who never committed a criminal offense, is somehow better than someone with a good heart who committed a criminal offense.
It’s a simple movie, with a straightforward plot and a very clear idea of representing the hypocrisy in society and show a little of the life in around the prison system, for those incarcerated and for the ones who cared for them.
We as a society usually try to dehumanize the individuals inside the penitentiary system, maybe as a way to make us feel better or to simply don’t care about the conditions these people live in, Imprisoned does the contrary, humanizing those who are treated as less than human.
The final product is satisfactory, a good and simple story conveying an important message, a very professional and solid production and an actor from one of my favorite series.
I can’t find any major flaw, but the movie just doesn’t translate into something great, it’s just good and for this, 7 Moons.