Written by: Vicente LeÃ±ero, based on the novel by EÃ§a de QueirÃ³s
Directed by: Carlos Carrera
Starring: Gael GarcÃa Bernal, Sancho Gracia, Ana Claudia TalancÃ³n, DamiÃ¡n AlcÃ¡zar
- Running audio commentary by director Carrera and actor Bernal (in Spanish with subtitles)
- Making-of featurette
- Photo gallery
- Poster explorations
- Theatrical trailer
- Cast and crew biographies
Released by: Columbia/Tristar
My Advice: Rent It
It’s a shame that most Hispanic actors are unable to break into the American market. Films like this show the talent of these people and what they’re capable of. Bernal has already demonstrated his talent in Y Tu MamÃ¡ TambiÃ©n, but here demonstrated more maturity in his acting and allowing his emotions to play under the surface. And TalancÃ³n gives off passion effortlessly when she declares her love or screaming at the men who fail her. Everybody involved really does give excellent performances. It’s a shame that most American filmmakers seem limited to casting Latino actors as gang members and domestics. There’s a lot of talent going to waste.
Like most movies that deal with religion, there was significant protest in Mexico about how the Church and its priests were treated in the film. (Of course, this probably helped increase its box office.) These protesters forget that while the Church serves the purity of God, it is made up of men–and they encompass the entire spectrum of morality. Man is fallible, even when serving the divine. But sometimes that service and the power it has can blind men to their fallibility and that’s when bad things happen. Director Carrera raises the questions, but he avoids trying to comment or pass judgment. In several scenes he leaves out any background music so not to force an interpretation on the viewer. Capable of displaying the overpowering majesty of the town church as well as the intimacy of the confessional, Carrera shows a mastery of visual symbolism that many American filmmakers could learn from. Praise also must be given to the writers who took the 19th century Portuguese novel and translated it to 21st century Mexico. They even kept several passages intact from the source material. Most writers are not inclined to think that someone else’s writing doesn’t need polishing up.
The commentary between the director and the star of the movie was very informative. They commented on some of the social problems depicted in the movie (drugs, the Church, abortion) and how the furor over the film’s presentation of these would make the rest of the world think Mexico was overly conservative. We learn that Bernal is shy over his love scenes and how he worked to make his Latin Mass as accent-free as possible. Carrera talked about his lighting decisions and all the difficulty of getting funding for his project. It’s nice to hear a good discussion–or should I say read. The commentary was obviously in Spanish with English subtitles. I would have liked the subtitles to be different colors to distinguish between the speakers.
The rest of the extras really don’t measure up. We get some posters, a five-minute commercial in the guise of a making-of featurette, and filmographies of the cast and crew. Nothing to write home about. Still, for those who want to see good thought-provoking cinema made outside the Hollywood system, check out The Crime of Padre Amaro.