“What’s this? War or a boy scout camp?”
Set during the 70s during border tensions between Chile and Argentina, Sgt Ferrer (Erto Panjojo) takes five conscripts out on patrol near the border. Ferrer is ordered to discover the barb wire boundary from the 1904 borders and then ‘defend the islands.’ The men are each given twenty bullets and told to kill 5 Argentineans. Since this is hardly a well-funded project, they have one compass to guide the way.
Given the set-up, the absurdities come fast and furious–with the underlying message that the men are entirely expendable in this insane mission. One of the conscripts, the plump, sweet but clueless Almonacid (Andres Olea) has the job of picking up a pebble every 1000 steps to mark their progress and approximate distance. As the terrain changes, the Chileans found themselves on the flat pampas covered plains with nowhere to hide, and they can’t tell where Chile ends and Argentina begins. It doesn’t take long before disaster strikes and the men find themselves locked into a version of trench warfare with their enemies –The Argentineans .
Mi Mejor Enimigo from director Alex Bowen, starts off very strongly before sliding into a few predictable cliches. Some of the characters are well developed while others are virtually ignored. But in spite of these faults, the film manages to redeem itself with its clear, subtle final scenes that underscore the idea that war is a pointless exercise in stupidity. Are the Chileans at the mercy of the Argentineans or their own officers? There’s one scene with the Chilean soldiers chatting when it suddenly occurs to them that they are all from Northern Chile. One of the men realizes that their origins dictate their assignment as it’s a well-known fact that many southern Chiles don’t see Argentina as a blood enemy. There’s an uncomfortable moment of silence and then the conversation moves on. The film’s gorgeous cinematography and stunning use of wide open skies, spectacular sunsets and vast open plains helps the sometimes weak plot in the message that borders are hard to clarify and sometimes impossible to maintain….
A great deal of the story focuses on private Rodrigo Rojas (Nicolas Saavedra) a young man who carries a photo of a waitress (Fernanda Urrejola) inside his helmet. He swears that if he survives this girl will be his, and this statement parallels the idea that some men get medals and some men don’t.