Tuesday, May 16, 2006

La Mujer de Mi Hermano directed by Ricardo de Montreuil

Director Ricardo de Montreuil and Peruvian screenwriter Jaime Bayly, who adapted his popular novel, have created an oddly unsexy melodrama in which every supposedly shocking revelation (rape, incest, homosexuality, pedophilia) is treated with the same blithe shrug of recognition. It's numbing, especially with the film's deadly serious mood.

American and Latin American soap operas and telenovelas do much with seriocomic tones and livelier acting. With Santiago, Chile, locations standing for the Mexico City setting and most of the action transpiring in Zoe and Ignacio's mausoleum-like house, an architectural showpiece made of gray cement and glass, ''La Mujer de Mi Hermano" seems to be happening not between a woman and two men, but between the pages of a shelter magazine.

You can find the review here

From their opening shots of floating insects and leaves in a lap pool, director Ricardo de Montreuil and his cinematographer give "La Mujer" a gloss intended to push against the muck of the onscreen emotions and also provide an alternative aesthetic to some of the grittier films coming from Mexico and Latin America.

What first-time Peruvian director Montreuil has delivered is a stylish soap opera that casts cultural dramas as melodrama.

Author Jaime Bayly, also Peruvian, adapted his novel and moved its steamy action to Mexico City. But geography doesn't much matter. "La Mujer's" characters are sealed in their habits, courting interpersonal disaster.

You can find the review here

Ricardo De Montreuil films Peruvian author Jaime Bayly's novel with his tongue half-in-cheek. The bombshells delivered here have the punch of BIG soap opera moments, but he tosses them off as if this is life-goes-on normal in this airless world of wealth and sex and unhappiness.

Cardona has the tricky job of playing a guy who could be Zoe's salvation, or her undoing. He's very good at maintaining the mystery of Gonzalo -- maybe he's a romantic, maybe he's a heel, or maybe he has motives we can't begin to fathom. Meier has the trickier job of playing a man who isn't as interested in the gorgeous Mori as we, quite naturally, think he should be.

And Mori underplays the victim/cheater/manipulator with a certain charm, if not cunning. The third act's surprises don't leave her with enough to play, frankly. Those surprises aren't fully explained or explored enough to give us a full idea of what they mean to the three leads.

The film's resolution feels abrupt in the extreme.

You can find the review here

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