by Greg Muskewitz
"El Desquite," which comes out as "The Revenge," was the fifth of the eight Latino films I attended this year at the San Diego Latino Film Festival.The Chilean movie was probably the second lowest-point of all of the movies I saw, maybe third (the worst, by far, was "Ciudad de M" from Peru), because through all of its banality, its predictability, its trite morals, "El Desquite" never delivered a good revenge. A young girl (Camila GarcIa) lives with her godparents until they give her away to a wealthy, but sickly upperclass wife, and her husband: LucIa and Don Pablo Casas-Cordero (MarIa Izquierdo and Willy Semler, respectively). When LucIa dies, Anita, now older (Tamara Acosta) and Don Pablo carry out a lascivious affair, until she gets pregnant, and he abandons her. ("My pain grew the same way as my belly did") Several years later, when he comes prancing around chasing another skirt, Anita plans a certain revenge, which, as it is obviously she is one hormonal and horny gal, includes switching places with the other girl at night to have sex with him in the other girl's place. The daily routine of switching places, getting him drunk so he can't quite tell, and playing on as if nothing was happening, plays out very quickly like a broken record. And like a broken record, it becomes annoying rapidly, but as an audience, unfortunately we can not avoid it or change its repetitious plot, and the movie itself does not try to push over its scratch or bump; it just lets it hit it over and over again, dulling the audience, like the needle, to the point beyond sharpness. There is nothing horribly new or unique about this story, and the seduction and sex are rudimentary. Throughout most of this, the child is ignored and no concern is ever thrown his way. He was mostly forgotten in diversion of the boring sex. I think it is interesting enough to point out that all of the movies I saw had sex as a major theme, and for most of them, if it was not the main motivation, it was near the top. The only thing surprising about this was that there was not much flesh shown. Even pushing past the underlit photography during all of "El Desquite," its uncrowning moment came in the revenge itself. If you are going to name your movie as such a thing, one might expect it to be about that. But the revenge here, the whole point of culmination, is weak and not sweet (as was at least the ending of Julie Taymor's "Titus"). Since there is no care around the Don Pablo character, it would have made perfect sense for director AndrEs Wood to take advantage of that by making it an enjoyable revenge for us and Anita, and making it thoroughly sufferable for Don Pablo. What sets the revenge worst off is that when he dies, it is obvious that Anita still cares about or for him, taking away a certain amount of schadenfruedian pleasure, but also the fact that she didn't get to do it. It turned out to be an accident, and maybe that was an irony, but it certainly did not come off that way. Instead, it makes the whole event an uneventful and peremptive uphill battle.Final Verdict: D.
"The revenge is not sweet."
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originally posted: 03/13/01 13:18:04