Colombian director Víctor Gaviria melds stark realism with nail-biting thrills in this story about a teenage girl who is kidnapped and forced into marriage with a ferocious shantytown thug.


Contemporary World Cinema

The Animal's Wife

Víctor Gaviria

The films of Víctor Gaviria have painted a stark picture of life in his native city of Medellin, from the violent devastation of the drug trade to the economic inequality that defines Colombian life. His latest feature, The Animal's Wife, explores domestic violence and the misogynistic culture of fear that perpetuates it.

Eighteen-year-old Amparo (Natalia Polo) is caught playing a prank on the nuns at the convent where she lives, and they threaten to call her father. Rather than face his rage, she goes to live with her sister in a shantytown on the outskirts of Medellin. The young woman is unprepared when Libardo (Tito Alexander Gómez) — known to everyone as "The Animal" — becomes obsessed with her, kidnaps her, and forces her into marriage. The community knows that she is being kept against her will, but so afraid are they of The Animal that they turn a blind eye.

Amparo gives birth to a daughter, and as The Animal moves her from home to home, she discovers another woman also kept by him. She decides that it is time to take a stand, but The Animal's menace knows no bounds. He is a ticking time bomb, and Amparo is determined to keep her daughter safe at all costs.

Gaviria keeps the tension on high throughout the film, melding thriller elements with the gritty realism created by his signature use of untrained actors. The Animal's Wife depicts the terror of living with violence, while denouncing the complicity that enables men like The Animal to continue to act without reproach.



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