Based on Fernando Vallejo’s 1994 novel La Virgen de los Sicaros (Our Lady of Assassins), Barbet Schroeder’s latest tells the story of a writer’s return to Colombia after a 30-year absence. It is there that Vallejo (German Jaramillo) woos a series of young boys and ruminates on the meaning of life along the way. Vallejo is an archetype worthy of Theo Angelopoulos: an expatriate who meditates through incessant yapping about the moral and physical corruption of his homeland. Like Angelopoulos’s Eternity and the Day, Our Lady of Assassins is noticeably heavy-handed though Schroeder goes easy on the neo-realist pretenses, humorously and tragically evoking a Colombia at once brimming with life yet lost to a legion of gangs and on the brink of godlessness. A street thug named “Death Boy” acts as Grim Reaper, warning Vallejo’s young lover Alexis (Anderson Ballesteros) of impending doom whenever an enemy is on the horizon. In Schroeder’s careful hands, Colombia becomes a mythic land where the successful delivery of drugs to the US becomes cause for celebration. Schroeder understands the sad importance of the drug trade to these people and how the church has failed the country’s people. The atheistic Vallejo comes face to face with the irony of divine justice and comically discovers the will of Satan when a twist of fate lands him in the loving arms of Alexis’s killer. The film is so strong it’s easy to forgive Schroeder for envisioning Colombia as a playground of sexually libidinous boys in need of man-love. While the notion that morally corrupt gangsters may be occupying a niche in Colombia’s gay subculture is certainly fascinating, the pervasive man-boy love detailed here is less realistic than fetishistic. Hey, whatever works.
- Paramount Classics
- 100 min
- Barbet Schroeder
- Fernando Vellejo
- German Jaramillo, Anderson Ballesteros, Juan David Restrepo, Manuel Busquets, Cesar Gaviria, Ernesto Samper
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