One wonders if Ruiz would've directed this material this straight, though I suppose Sarmiento would know better than I. Still felt that I could've used the dreaminess that characterizes a lot of his other work, would've brought a neat dimension to a generally stodgy genre. The unnaturalness of war colliding with every day life.
Good cinematography (especially camera), historic accuracy, interesting elaboration of some characters. But the film in its entity doesn't work and is dramaturgically weak. Furthermore, the music is often out of place: always the same four or five something pieces used in different situations.
A war movie without battles... just a few minor skirmishes. Instead it shows fleeing refugees, encampments, deserters, hospitals etc. I'm giving it three stars, mainly for the visuals. Something about it wasn't quite convincing. Everyone was so photogenic, good-looking. Scattered corpses seemed carefully arranged. Sometimes the dialog was corny and some of the actors too much of our time.
The cinematography and historical representation of events and social dynamics were really good, with some exquisite scenes and landscapes... but I thought that the large ensemble cast, while gathering some impressive names, made it more difficult to create an interesting story arc and build characters that we could actually follow and care about.