I’ve changed my mind: Pacific Rim is a grossly overproduced piece of crap.

BIOF 71rYQs-NrYLWe stumbled across Blame It On Fidel (La Faute à Fidel) while playing Netflix roulette.  We had never heard of it, had no idea what it was about, just saw the poster thumbnail & decided to give it a whirl.

Boy, are we glad we did.

It is a delightful, charming movie, a drama but told with wit and humor.  It’s a simple story but rich with complexity.

9-year-old Anna (played by Nina Kervel) is a middle class girl with a perfectly comfortable middle class life.  Unfortunately for her complacency, her parents are becoming increasingly radicalized (the story is set in 1971 France).  Anna’s life is soon thrown into complete disarray:  The family’s declining finances force them to abandon their petit bourgeois lifestyle, she finds herself bombarded by contradictory and complicated ideas, when her parents aren’t fighting for the cause they are fighting each other, and all poor Anna wants is for some stability to be restored and things to return to normal.

For much of the film she opposes her parents’ choices and actions, a perfect little reactionary right in the middle of a cell of radicals.  But despite their short-sightedness and self-centeredness, in the end when they are emotionally devastated by the overthrow of Allende (the father in particular was trying to atone for past failings by doing what he could to support the doomed Chilean government) it is little Anna who realizes somebody has to be the grown-up in her family, and it is she who offers support and compassion to her self-involved parents.

It sounds heavy (and some of the themes are) but director / co-writer Julie Gavras has a mercifully light touch and while the film is not comedic, humor does shine through (particularly funny is a scene where Anna wakes up to find her apartment filled with bearded radicals, whom she then gets into a hilarious economic debate, trying to educate them to the virtues of capitalism by playing shop; it’s absolutely absurd and rings true all at the same time).

After seeing Blame It On Fidel, I had a startling epiphany: It is the same story as Pacific Rim.

Oh, granted there are no giant robots in Blame It On Fidel, but the stories are identical.  In each some larger, unknown, uncertain outside force overtakes everything the protagonist holds dear, and they must choose how to react to it in order to not just survive but emerge victorious.

The difference is that Pacific Rim creates a wholly imaginary and unreal threat.  Yes, art is supposed to symbolize human concerns, but PacRim goes much too far afield.  We are asked to feel empathy for characters posing in front of greenscreens as they battle nonsensical imaginary monsters, and to cheer their victory when they prove they have the biggest dick meanest robot suit on the planet.

Compare and contrast with Anna, who has no weapons at her disposal, who can only cope with the ever changing situation by using her own mind and her own heart.

She doesn’t whip a miraculous solution out of thin air but eventually comes to realize a very simple, basic truth that enables her to cope with her chaotic home life; in fact, not merely cope but triumph over it by letting love and compassion replace the anger and bile that had been festering in her heart.

A beautiful story, an uplifting story, a meaningful story, and all told for a fraction of the cost of one day’s catering on Pacific Rim.

People, dial it back a notch…


Richard E. Geis (1927 – 2013)