|There's something weirdly entertaining about this film. It's got all the elements of a good movie. The interesting atmosphere, the intriguing story, the beautiful people. The whole thing reminds me of something like The Age of Innocence with a little heat. But this movie's got a lot of what makes up a bad movie too. Overly melodramatic actors, a score that's really dramatic. Everything just transcends the weepy. It's all just really amazingly smarmy. It's like the people who made this film decided to go all out with the acting and the story.|
Everything in this movie just a little bit overdone. But I really don't know whether or not this serious tone is supposed to be strictly straight. Because sometimes when there are serious parts in the film, it all becomes a little laughable. When I was in the theater watching this film, there were several parts, probably around five times, when the actors on the screen were completely serious, and yet about half the audience was chuckling. Kind of weird, when you don't know if those laughs were supposed to be there.
Perhaps if the actors gave some clue onscreen as to whether we in the audience were supposed to laugh, it would have been easier to take. But it just got really weird sometimes. I'm going to give you a specific example now. So skip just the next paragraph if you don't want a spoiler.
Spoiler Alert! Next Paragraph
At the end of the film, Antonio shoots the bad guy, while suffering from being poisoned. Angelina rushes to the scene to see if Antonio is all right. Some guards then run up and ask if the shot bad guy is all right. Angelina, without a word, picks up the gun, turns around, and shoots the bad guy. She then says something like "he (the bad guy) doesn't need help, help him (about Antonio)." It's really quite a funny moment. Really comedic. But in such a serious movie, it's hard to know if you should laugh. After this scene, I certainly did.
End of Spoiler Alert
But this moment didn't detract from the drama of the movie. In fact, it made it a little more palatable. There's nothing worse than a serious film that's all serious. There has to be some humor to allow the audience to distance itself from the depressing moments (because let's face it, drama is usually depressing). But that's not to say the acting in this film is worth an oscar. In fact, it's really over the top. But I guess I said that already. It's probably my main complaint with this film. The movie has an interesting enough plot and some great cinematography (more on that a few paragraphs from now), but the actors really deliver the dialogue a little too bit intense.
For example, the actor who plays "Walter Downs," a private investigator looking into the disappearance of a woman who Angelina's character claims to be, has a scene with Antonio where the two men have a strange and strained kiss. Rhere were a few audible gasps from the audience and a few laughs during this scene when I was in the theater. Thomas Jane, who plays the investigator, has had roles over the past decade that have varied from the pretty good to the really cheesy and this one definitely hovers closer to the cheesy.
Antonio's performance, in contrast, isn't cheesy, he's just very intense. And there's a difference between a performance that's intense, and one that kind of makes you laugh. And although antonio's character did have moments that were humorous, most of the scenes where humor just wasn't suppose to be there, were dramatically well acted. Overall, Antonio's performance was good. Angelina's performance was mostly good as well, though sometimes it became a little too much. It suffers from the same smarmy-ness that thomas jane's performance does. But hey, it's all part of the atmosphere, right? It's just a really melodramatic melodrama with a lot of humor and some performances that come very close (and sometimes cross) the line of good taste.
Oh hell, this whole film is just kind of weird. A criticism that I don't agree with for this film though is that it's just a glorified porno. In point of fact, this film has but one really steamy sex scene. I was expecting Angie and Tony to be hopping into bed every two scenes or so. And while it was true that there was nudity in more than one scene, the film was able to evoke a "steamy" atmosphere without reverting to a "skintimax" style midnight porno flick every few minutes. Maybe it was the fault of the trailers for this film, but I really though that this movie would have a lot more sexuality in it than it did.
Though I understand from reading some articles that the editors had to cut out some parts of the film to get it to an R rating. What makes this picture hard to look away from is that it tries to combine so many elements of different genres into one film that it's hard to know what you're supposed to think after having seen this film. Add to that, it's really over the top. The acting's sometimes a bit too much and the story has as many twists and turns as the usual suspects. But these flaws really add up to a story that's actually fun to watch.
You don't have to take is seriously and it's obvious that the filmmakers went all-out to create the world of 18th century Cuba. They don't seem to apologize for the fact that everything in this film is too intense. Plus, the cinematography is really beautiful. The set dressings and a creative editing strategy combine to create a film that's more interesting than lame. Although I don't think this movie will win any awards for acting ability, it's certainly something out-of-the-ordinary.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.