Monday, July 21, 2008


Very seldom I’m so lucky as to find a movie from Peru and much less lucky to find an outstandingly good film from a Latin American country that has not yet acquire the film standards of the traditional cinema prolific countries like Mexico, Argentina or Brazil. This first movie by Claudia Llosa was a most welcomed surprise that as has been said by some critic’s it is truly remarkable that the director has never directed before and was able to make a film so accomplished, as this movie truly looks and feels like the work of a mature and accomplished director.

Tells a not so simple story set in an isolated village in the Cordillera Blanca Mountain range of Peru and a young geologist, Salvador, arriving just before the Holy Week celebrations. The village is so remote that never gets foreigners visits, so Salvador is not welcomed and is locked in the village mayor house as no foreigner is allowed to see their celebrations. What follows is the most surrealist tale that combines the village mayor family drama with some –at least for me- unusual Holy Week traditions that I have ever seen, all done with incredibly good cinematography, slow and thrilling pace, great framing, amazing use of music and the most exquisite mise en scene that you can imagine.

But actually the story is about the coming of age of a teenage girl with an unusual name: Madeinusa (just in case you do not get it, the name is the composition of three English words: Made in USA) that some claim is a common name in Peru, and it is a truly provocative and very different coming of age story, as different as her unusual name suggests.

The movie has only two professional actors, Carlos J. de la Torre that plays Salvador and well-known comic in Peru, Juan Ubaldo Huamán that plays Cayo the village mayor. But the most impressive performance comes from non-actor Magaly Solier that plays Madeinusa with such powerful screen presence that totally steals the movie. Besides Solier has the most beautiful and exotic face features that the director successfully exposed in some fantastic takes. It is truly a great viewers pleasure to be able to see her in almost all the movie takes.

Claudia Llosa wrote, directed and produced this outstandingly amazing film and I give her a BIG chapeau for this remarkably good debut oeuvre that truly deserves to be seen by a wider and international audience as has the quality that not many movies from allover the world have.

I believe I have to elaborate a little more on the story so you will get a better idea of how unusual the story is; but first I have to mention that some Peruvian viewers have been offended with many movie viewers comments that believe this story reflects reality. I have no idea if what you’re able to see in this movie is reality, if is an interpretation of reality or if is fiction. No matter what really is, the Holy Week traditions portrayed in this movie are really fascinating, amazingly logical and truly provocative for stern Catholic religion followers.

The essence of the traditions portrayed relay in the fact that on Good Friday Christ dies and does not resurrect until Sunday. During the time Christ is dead he cannot see a thing and consequently nothing is sin, so people are free to act on their basest of impulses without guilt or consequence. Isn’t this unbelievable simple and basic logic?

Then the story and consequently the movie have so many layers that the director was able to successfully move story and movie in many dimensions. This was exceptionally good work that to exemplify what I mean I give you an example that I see like a parallel movement between two main layers one that seems like a documental, as documents (real or fictional) traditions and another that is the drama. The movie zigzags both layers bringing to the front the documentation and leaving in second front (still running) the drama and vice versa. This storytelling technique absolutely blew my mind! Truly awesome!

As you can imagine I could go on and on writing about this amazing movie, but I know I have to stop and finish by telling you that this multiple award winning and honored 2006 movie is a must be seen dark fable that all serious cinema lovers have to see, as obviously it is not for all audiences for the story it tells and the surprisingly good and provocative way the director chose to tell the story.

I more than loved the movie and I strongly recommend it to all that dares to watch an excellent movie that will definitively blow your mind with the story and the ultra high productions values.


No comments yet