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Awesome: 23.53%
Worth A Look: 35.29%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 5 user ratings

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Our Lady of the Assassins
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by Thom

"When nobody is innocent, there is no innocence to lose"
3 stars

Medellin, Colombia has become little more than a killing field for warring gangsters. The drug trade completely dominates the life of this impoverished city. Churches have become whorehouses and drug dens for the vast shiftless street population. Despair has taken a back seat to survival. An older writer returns to the city of his birth to inherit an apartment and get in touch with his past. While there, he falls for an attractive young street thug from the more dangerous neighborhoods and gets caught up in the city's street life of murder and vengeance.

Filmed in Medellin, Our Lady of the Assassins takes the truth and makes it more poignant. The focus is not so much on Fernando (the Writer, played by German Jaramillo) and Alexis (Anderson Ballesteros) as much as it is on the wasteland that Medellin has become. Fernando takes Alexis on a tour of the city of Fernando's youth when Medellin was not the hot spot of the cocaine trade, but a quiet town. Fernando has no romantic attachment to his past but he's wandering the world and wonders if Medellin isn't where he belongs. The harshness of the city is softened by the comfort he finds in his love affair and after he tires of the poverty, the crime and the desecration of his city, he plans to leave with Alexis to start life somewhere, anywhere, else. But Alexis, like all young men, is a marked target. A neutral street punk (Abeira Lopera) with a tattoo of a skull on his shoulder is the messenger that warns Alexis when and who is going to try to kill him.

While Fernando has no taste for blood, his love for Alexis and the moral obfuscation of life in Medellin, compels him to supply fresh bullets for the gun that protects both Fernando and Alexis. Fernando takes his role as protector a little too seriously and easily kills even the most innocent of offenders.

Eventually, Alexis' luck runs out and "Our Lady" shows her favor to someone else's blessed bullet. Fernando unknowingly takes up with Alexis killer, and when he finds out who he's sleeping with, he decides that his love for the youth has overshadowed his desire for revenge.

There are a few things that didn't sit right with me with this film. While I appreciate that the film centers around homosexual relationships and I liked the portrayal of macho street thugs as cock-suckers without it being a flimsy premise for a wack film, I couldn't understand why Fernando would take up with a man so young. I can see how a young man with no prospect would like the financial support of an older, established man and throw sex into the deal, but Fernando wasn't just taking up with a hustler. They, at some point, actually fell in love. I couldn't see how and I was especially thrown off after all Fernando's poetic and fervent declarations of love, he could so quickly fall for another boy.

The attitude of the characters reflected the general moral confusion of the city. Being a loving person did not mean you were a compassionate, life affirming person. I have a new definition for love from watching this film. Love stares down the barrel of a gun.

In spite of the body count, this not a difficult or even shocking film. The gruesome and the violent are taken in stride and become matter of fact incidences. There is no editorial slant, no lesson, not even a point. It is an intriguing film because it takes a theme that we are used to seeing in a particular way; gay relationships, gang violence, street crime and death, and throwing them together in a completely different light. This film is definitely for the adventurous and not people seeking out the familiar lifestyle affirmations you would get in a film like But I'm A Cheerleader or All Over the Guy. It's lack of energy demands some attention but there is so much to startle you in every scene that I became engrossed in the horror of it all and the subdued way it is treated.

Manuel Busquets plays a preternaturally mature and streetwise kid named Alfonso that becomes something like Fernando's confidante. While homosexuality is not openly accepted in this Catholic and macho city, Alfonso is a refreshing sign that perhaps the youth have a more open and accepting attitude. The soundtrack is full of that Hispanic punk rock and black metal that's becoming popular as fast as Pentacostalism in Latin America.

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originally posted: 09/08/01 09:56:25
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User Comments

7/18/05 Larry Lufkin - A hauntingly stunning film - very powerful. Anderson is exceptionally stunning. 5 stars
4/10/02 Camilo "El sexo es todo lo que uno es, entonces lo que uno no-es tambien es." 3 stars
10/16/01 jaymz bee Depressingly brilliant! A must see for chicken hawks and street hustlers! 5 stars
10/15/01 Lee Zaslofsky This film touched my heart and soul. 5 stars
10/07/01 Ruben Apocalyptic, but very good in every respect. 5 stars
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  07-Sep-2001 (R)



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