Starring ‘Money Heist’s’ Rodrigo de la Serna, Paramount+’s ‘The Rescue’ Unpacks Argentina’s Democratic Transition

Politics in Argentina are volatile. The 20th century brought six coups and restrictions on democracy were not lifted until 1983. Daniela Goggi’s (“Abzurdah”) latest “The Rescue” (“El Rapto”) is set in this transitional period, where a hangover of deep corruption still remains.

It stars “Money Heist’s” Rodrigo de la Serna, hit Paramount+ Nov. 3 and now plays in main competition at the Huelva Ibero-American Film Festival.

More from Variety

Produced by Paramount Television International Studios, Rei Cine (“The Settlers”) and Infinity Hill (“Argentina, 1985”), it shows Paramount’s continued global ambitions in Spanish-language originals.

“At our studio, we always seek to create high-quality content with great partners and remarkable talent, in front of and behind the camera, to create local stories with universal appeal that will cross borders and conquer global audiences,” said Dario Turovelzky, EVP Broadcast & Studios at Latam Paramount Global.

“‘El Rapto’ (‘The Rescue’) is an outstanding example of this ongoing creative pursuit. Its global premiere at the Venice International Film Festival and its subsequent tour around the rest of the world is a testament that we are on the right path in our content production journey,” he added.

The story turns on Julio Levy’s (Rodrigo de la Serna) return from exile to his home country, finding a mix of hope for a democratic future and paranoia of its precariousness. His brother is then abducted. “The kidnapping for ransom, begins to tease a political strand in the film, exposing alliances, how the same agents of state control and intelligence services were still operating during democracy,” Daniela Goggi told Variety. The unceasing attempts by the family to seek the brother’s return, and a closing vice of corruption and time propel this political thriller.

Goggi and co-writer Andrea Garrote have fictionalized the memoir “El Salto de Papá” by Martín Sivak and wrote with de la Serna in mind.

“For us, he was the actor; there was hardly any possibility of it being someone else.”

The “Money Heist” star brings both psychological and physical heft to the role and is supported by Germán Palacios (“Hunting Season”) and Julieta Zylberberg (“My Friend From The Park.”)

“We began to study how people spoke in the 1980s, particularly how intellectuals and progressive figures of that time spoke, their cadence and intonation,” Goggi said when asked about the commitment needed for the role.

“There was work on the body, too, on posture, gaining weight, breathing patterns; the character had to have dyspnea and a constant lack of air. There was a complete transformation to bring the character’s imagination to life and also a physical intervention. And in those interventions of a body that is a self-destructive machine, which smokes and eats; it only swallows smoke and instead of speaking, it exhales smoke. He cannot express his feelings.” she concluded.

What is expressed, through de la Serna’s performance and all aspects of the film, is a deep anxiety as we move within his business, his family home, and the corridors of the institutional buildings.

“The camera is never still, mirroring the character’s condition, who would not be able to continue if he stopped. This state of anxiety is constructed by having these characters move through these spaces with long tracking shots,” Goggi said.

The film premiered at Venice Horizons and was described by Variety as a “sober and serious look at a sober and serious subject.”

It is also timely, current elections in Argentina have provided the public with a choice between a Peronist economy minister or a hard-right libertarian. Politics is seldom easy.

For Goggi, knowing history is important. “For the younger generations, understanding the transition from dictatorship to democracy is very powerful because they take for granted that we live in democratic states, especially in Latin America,” she said.

“They need to understand the cost in lives and the lasting impact on people’s life stories. Reintroducing this topic into the discussion reminds us that despite the corruption and interest-driven relations in democracy, it is still always preferable to a dictatorship. It puts back on the agenda the notion that arbitrary historical processes lead to human tragedies, contemporary tragedies.”

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.