A few weeks ago biographical criminal film “Escobar” was released. It was expected to be the most dramatical movie of the summer. Partly based on the once known journalist’s book “Love Pablo, Hate Escobar”, the story precariously balances on the edge of these two feelings. Sometimes we see a melodrama about love of the Beauty and the Beast, sometimes it is just a thriller in which the ambitious lady tries to restrain the most powerful Drug Lord.
So, if you haven’t watched that movie yet, should you? Was it worth waiting for so long? Let me get this straight.
You can squeeze the whole point of that movie in three sentences. In the early 1990s Virginia Vallejo and DEA agent take a charter flight from Columbia to the USA. The former TV star has to flee the country for fear for life. Ex-lover Pablo Escobar hates her and the main threats continue to emanate from his enemies killing everyone who is connected to the rebellious drug dealer. The American agent arranges the breakout in exchange for information.
It is a story about an instinct to seize a power and about political ambitions that lead Escobar to rock bottom.
Script and Drama
The problem of the film is the lack of courage to go beyond a trivial story of the crime boss and his lover. The film doesn’t have a nerve that will enable a viewer to emphasize, to be a part of the play. Director and screenwriter Fernando Leona de Aranoia, the star of Spanish cinema who has directed some good social dramas, sometimes tries to find an unusual angle in the story of Escobar, but it ends with a chainsaw and mutilations. If it’s director’s feature to show us a beer belly every fifteen minutes, then I just don’t get it.
I suppose Fernando de Aranoia just thought that the most famous actors and the focus on a such colorful character as Pablo Escobar would be enough to surprise the audience. Unfortunately, it didn’t work.
A viewer feels betrayed and angry because posters look so promising, making us expect a mad love story, but in fact, we get a couple of languorous and inviting looks, 30-second sexual scene, and that’s it.
I thought the relationship should be the crucial idea. It is the relationship that determined the fate of Escobar. Yet, man proposes, God disposes.
A duet of Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem we were so waiting for looked like a distinct one-man show. That’s why the audience feels cheated. However, I must admit that the character of the brutal, unprincipled man and, at the same time, the compassionate king of a crack house fits Javier Bardem like a glove.
First of all, it’s his amazing similarity to real Pablo. Secondly, Bardem doesn’t embellish and demonize his role, he’s not afraid to be funny running away from the police through the jungle.
On the other hand, Penelope Cruz disappoints us. Her way of playing is pretentious, it seems like she’s on the edge of hysteria. Probably, there is a point to balance the whole uncontrolled TV star and dispassionate Bardem, but as a character she is a mystery.
Basically, we cannot pay her character a compliment. But I must mention her outfits. Stylists did their job really well, for sure. She looks gorgeous, despite her age. Those luxury jewelries and attires that flatter the figure of the typical Columbian woman make the spirit right of Escobar’s time.
In real life the couple couldn’t recreate on-screen chemistry. It feels like for them it is the relationship for the sake of convenience and own gratification.
Escobar’s just not catchy. Not like a melodrama, not like a gang thriller. The movie reminds me just a trailer that grasps viewers’ attention with a lot of the interesting scenes and moments but doesn’t allow to see the whole point.
It really starts to unravel in the second part and fall into pieces in the end. Even the charisma of married Bardem and Cruz couldn’t glue it together.
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