Like a Chilean Edith Piaf or Bob Dylan, Violeta Parra was a folk singer and pop culture icon whose songs, like ``Gracias a la Vida,`` expressed the soul of her nation and protested social injustice. Violeta Went to Heaven tells Parra`s extraordinary story, tracing her evolution from impoverished child to international sensation to Chile`s national hero, while capturing the swirling intensity of her inner contradictions, fallibilities, and passions.
Director Andrés Wood, whose films are distinguished for crystallizing Chile`s zeitgeist, wisely moves beyond linear biography, drawing on an impressionistic structure and a reverberating performance by actress Francisca Gavilán, to unearth the elusive, charged core of this magnetic character. Wood evocatively interweaves key set pieces from Parra`s life—her humble family roots, her Paris foray as a celebrated visual artist, her travels through Chile to preserve disappearing traditional culture, her tenuous hold on motherhood, and her tumultuous love life. And then there`s the music. Violeta’s heart-wrenching, indelible songs permeate this film, and they will penetrate the viewer’s soul.