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Daniel & Ana

Marimar Vega as Ana in Michel Franco’s Daniel & Ana. [Photo: Strand Releasing]

Daniel & Ana 1 out of 4

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Daniel & Ana tells us from the start that it's based on a true story—almost always a sign of a lazy or evasive filmmaker who believes his or her work is above reproach. The rationale (or rather, warped perception): "Don't attack my movie because it happened in real life!"…as if the rules for real life and narrative were the same. In the film, siblings Daniel (Darío Yazbek Bernal) and Ana (Marimar Vega) are kidnapped at gunpoint and forced by underground pornographers to have sex with each other before being returned to their parents' posh Mexico City manse. This might have been a legitimately shocking scenario if the audience had gotten a sense of Daniel and Ana's relationship as siblings prior to their ordeal—or provocative if the assault even remotely suggested a revolt against the haves by the have nots (the focus on luxe in the film may be startling, but at most, all it expresses is the trite idea that money can't buy a rape victim happiness). Instead, it's something that happens as if to strangers, and though director Michel Franco isn't titillated by Daniel and Ana's sexual relations, he does effusively fixate on the siblings' post-traumatic stress, which he conveys throughout fancily composed—and classically scored—scenes (going solo to the movies, lying in bed in the fetal position, standing frozen at crosswalks) that suggest parodies of Michelangelo Antoninoi's ennui-clogged style. Tellingly, Franco conceives of Daniel as a virgin and Ana as a soon-to-be bride—needlessly dialing up the film's already suffocating what-could-be-worse? hysteria. Whether those details are true to the lives the characters of Daniel and Ana were based on is anyone's guess, but this much is true: Anyone who believes that a brother and sister fucking is in and of itself a fascinating subject for a movie probably needs a shrink more than he or she needs a producer.

Director(s): Michel Franco Screenwriter(s): Michel Franco Cast: Darío Yazbek Bernal, Marimar Vega, José María Torre, Luis Miguel Lombana, Montserrat Ontiveros Distributor: Strand Releasing Runtime: 90 min Rating: NR Year: 2009

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