Thursday, May 31, 2007

Worst Episode Ever

The only good thing in Madrigal.

I was hoping Waiter would be the worst film I saw at SIFF, but I hoped in vain. Madrigal is worse. How much worse? I wrenched my back a little over a week ago and was in considerable pain for three days. I didn't so much as take an aspirin. Madrigal lasted 112 minutes and about ten minutes in I was screaming for the Vicodan.

Not being familiar with Fernando Perez I had no idea he is one of the most celebrated film directors of Cuba, a fact I never would have guessed from watching this movie. Far from looking like the accomplished work of a veteran director, Madrigal appears to be a first-time feature by a student filmmaker; the depiction of contemporary human behavior and sexual mores being so utterly inept it could have only been written by a kid with zero life experience or a hopelessly out-of-touch old fart.
At this point, I suppose, a diegesis of the plot and characters should be given but, oddly, neither the story nor the protagonists are at fault. At its core, the plot [actor woos and betrays lonely girl at the behest of his conniving girlfriend] has sound elements and solid potential, as does each and every character. The problem, again, is with the treatment.
Perez's writing/direction is so labored, so sodden with bad surrealism, bad poetry and heavily portentous dialogue that the film easily scores an 11 on the pretentious-o-meter. Basically, its an epic Calvin Klein Obsession ad, but without the wit and subtlety. The soundtrack consists mainly of the same piano chord being banged whenever anything vaguely dramatic occurs, leading one to the nagging suspicion that Perez is trying to emulate the Ligeti snippet in Eyes Wide Shut. Further proof of this is provided by an orgy scene so choreographed it makes the one in Kubrick's flick look like a Rocco Siffredi vid.
Aside from some wonderfully lensed shots of the decaying splendor of Havana, the only good thing in Madrigal is Carla S/*nchez as the conniving girlfriend, Eva. Although whether that's due to her performance, which injects the only shot of piquancy into the movie, or the frequency of her nude scenes is hard to say.
Wednesday June 13 6:30pm Neptune
Saturday, June 16 6:45pm Lincoln Square

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