Based in the radial program “Rumpy” Artiagoitía, the film by Cristián Galaz was a landmark in the Chilean cinema: eight hundreds people assisted to the movie theaters in 1999 to watch in the screen the most popular sexual stories of the Rock & Pop program, turning it in the fifth most seen Chilean move in history and which triggered a boom of national productions as Taxi para Tres (2001) and Sexo con Amor (2003).
It is difficult to write about El Chacotero Sentimental and his impact in the Chilean society when I was barely four years for its release in the big screen. Even more if we talk about its radial beginning in 1996 in 94.1 station in Santiago, which soon was popular among the audience that were expectant to hear anonymous sentimental confessions of different Chilean people at noon.
However, after seeing it twenty years later, the film turned out to be an exercise of memory towards the Chile of the new millennium, the one where there was no public talk about sex and relationships between couples. The topics were different: the transition to democracy, globalization and the rise of the Internet influenced the way of understanding and consuming the media of the time and its news.
That was the main reason for the success of the radio program: the Chileans were bored of hearing the same thing every day, also to see the same political and dense histories of the national cinema of the last decade, being a perfect scenario for El Chacotero Sentimental and his simple and direct comedy.
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Three stories are chosen to give an account of the dynamics of this space, where two men and a woman tell their stories. Between the laughter and the tragedy, the protagonists get naked in front of the Rumpy, who thinks and advises expressly under phrases such as “chicotea los caracoles” or ” te vamos a ponerte un tema ” to close the conversation.
Cataloged as an “X-ray to Chilean society”, Galaz’s film covers forbidden but at the same time naturalized topics among the audience, such as the idea of ”patas negras” or the problems of intimacy between a couple of low social strata who do not have a private space to share. It is also curious to think that such stories would be bad looks today, where gender roles have been questioned and women have empowered themselves: for example, the character of Pablo Macaya would be judged for forcing his partner to have sex even though she unwilling.
The second story entitled “Secrets”, which tells an incestuous relationship between a father and his daughter, addresses a level beyond: a tragedy that borders on the bizarre, where the mother of this daughter ends up committing suicide in the face of disgust and shame of betrayal. The surprising thing is that Rumpy treats auditors very lightly over the telephone, also reflecting a society that is not willing to see and worry about these acts of violence and prefers to hide them under the carpet. Everyone wants to hear passionate and forbidden stories from others, but nobody questions whether these relationships are under mutual consent, that ruins the experience.
Finally, El Chacotero Sentimental, like any other cultural product, responds to the historical and social context in which it develops. We can not examine this tape under current standards, neither for its content nor for its quality. However, one thing is undeniable: this phenomenon gave rise to a wave of Chilean films with similar themes that revitalized our filmography, making ordinary Chileans, far from the cultural field, want to bet on the national cinema.