Film Fest Finds: ‘The Punishment’

A mother’s harsh discipline escalates into the worst-case scenario when her son goes missing.


What happens when a mom snaps? The Punishment proposes one possible scenario when a mother, Ana, disciplines her 7-year-old son by leaving him on the side of a rural road and driving away. The father, Mateo, thinks Ana is being too harsh, but he doesn’t stop her either. 

The boy, Lucas, is alone for exactly two minutes…

When the parents return, he’s gone. Is he lost? Did he run away? Was he kidnapped? Eaten by pumas? These are the questions on Ana and Mateo’s minds as they search for their son. They fight with each other, cry, scream and frantically hunt for Lucas, eventually calling the police for help. 


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The film, shot in one continuous 86-minute take, is tense. Set in the woods of Argentina, viewers can feel each minute tick by as the sun sets in the forest changing the light from gold to blue. 

It also leaves moviegoers with a potent message on the demands of motherhood. A relevant anecdote: The father who joined me at the screening noted that while he was watching a movie about motherhood, his wife was at home watching their kid. 

The film, which is in Spanish with subtitles, is playing one more time at the Milwaukee Film Festival. It’s screening at the Oriental Theatre on Wednesday, April 26 at 12:30 p.m. The Punishment is also part of the virtual festival, which is available to all-access passholders from May 1-May 7. 

Watch the Trailer: 



Alli Watters is the digital and culture editor at Milwaukee Magazine. That means that in addition to running this website, she covers art, entertainment, style, home and more for the magazine. It also means she doesn't sleep much.