The Sentimental Teaser: The Movie

(El Chacotero sentimental: La pelicula, Cristián Galaz, Chile, 1999)


Cristián Galaz' The Sentimental Teaser: The Movie arrives with a reputation as "the most popular Chilean film ever", commercially speaking. It is a good example of a low-budget film drawing inspiration and energy from a neighbouring area of its country's popular culture.

"The Sentimental Teaser" is a Chilean radio program, featuring a gregarious host who invites his listeners to confess their most personal and outrageous real-life tales. Most of these stories revolve around sex: "sentimental teaser" is slang for penis. Galaz' movie visualises three such phone-in anecdotes, peppered with the host's prompts and interjections.

It begins inauspiciously. The first story, "The Lover", is purely a sex romp (of the Confessions of a Window Cleaner [1974] variety) about an insatiable, unfaithful wife and her lucky but quickly shagged-out neighbour.

Suddenly, with "Secrets", the film crashes into arty seriousness – even the host is silenced by his caller's disquieting revelations about family life.

The third part, "Everything is Valid", places a comedy of desire within the difficult conditions of communal and working life in Chile today.

In its own unselfconscious way, this film offers a quick, useful survey of the styles and modes of Chilean (or, more broadly, Latin American) cinema – from vulgarity to social realism via Gothic psychodrama. Perhaps all "minor" cinemas in the shadow of Hollywood – including Australia's – find themselves flipping through a similar array of genres.

Galaz' breakthrough effort is a fascinating example of a small national cinema fighting back and reaching its audience.

© Adrian Martin September 2000

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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