Monday, March 02, 2009

Arráncame la Vida (Tear This Heart Out)

A period melodrama about power and life in Mexico that according to what I read is the most expensive production up to date in Mexico and definitively has high production values that some viewers comment have never before given to movies, but are quite common for “telenovelas” or soap operas. Unfortunately I have to agree with those that comment that the movie has “telenovela” production values and I add that also have a very “telenovela” screenplay that makes the film look and feel like regular soap operas… only a lot shorter.

This Roberto Sneider film based on the novel by Angeles Mastretta is set against the backdrop of the post-revolution ’30 and ‘40s Mexico and tells the life of a woman that marries ruthless general Andres Asensio when she was only 15 years-old and he was much older than her. She’s naïve but soon enough starts to learn that being the wife of a power hungry Mexican politico means that her life will be lonely, will have to accept all the other women in her husband life plus many of his children will come to live at the official home with her. So we follow her extra marital affairs while his husband becomes state governor and while he seeks the presidency of Mexico.

Actors’ performances are acceptable especially for the two leads Ana Claudia Talancon that plays Catalina Guzman and Daniel Gimenez Cacho playing her husband. Cinematography is very good indoors and outdoors with some scenes with great lighting that resemble almost visual poetry. But no matter how good the production values are this is a film that you could enjoy if you really like “telenovelas” as the screenplay is full of clichés often seen in Latin American soap operas.

What really puzzles me is what the Mexican Academy was thinking when submitted this film to the foreign film Oscar. With so many excellent films Mexico is producing lately is really not understandable why they would chose a soapy film instead of a seriously good (or even art) cinema. This selection is really strange. But then I have to remember that the American Academy is also strange, as this movie made the short list! Also “strange” is the fact that the movie got only nominations for technical categories and has no major nomination at all in the Mexican Academy 2009 awards.

Anyway there is one thing that I highly enjoyed in this movie: the songs! Many if not all the songs were sung to me by my godmother when I was a very little person (lol!) and believe it or not, still today I know almost all the lyrics. That was a very sweet voyage into the past that brought back good memories for me.

If you like period melodramas and/or Latin American soap operas then you probably will enjoy this movie. If you don’t and decide to skip it, you will not be missing much unless you enjoy great old fashion “boleros”.


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