08 September 2005

Rosario Tijeras

Just got back from seeing Rosario Tijeras*, the first narrative film by Mexican documentarian Emilio Maillé, an adaptation of the novel by Jorge Franco (Gregory Rabassa translated it into English):
Colombia’s celebrated "new generation" writer, Jorge Franco, presents an urban drama set in the violent underbelly of Medellín, Colombia during Pablo Escobar’s drug addled 1980s. In the realist tradition, Franco captures the protagonists’ struggles against hostile social structures as well as the tragic reality of living in Colombia today. The story of Rosario, the lower-class female gun for hire from the comunas, is recounted by lovesick Antonio as he waits outside the emergency room where Rosario lays dying from an assassin’s bullet. Winner of the 2000 Dashiell Hammett award.
The silly Publishers Weekly review at Amazon starts off with, "The American debut by award-winning Colombian novelist Franco is an energetic but awkward combination of As I Lay Dying and a Quentin Tarantino splatter-fest--a slim novel that leans more toward the latter's B-movie violence than Faulkner's penetrating examination of a character's death." Obviously, the reviewer didn't realize that violence was a fact of life in those days. A writer would be hard-pressed to overdo any of it. (There's a lot I'd like to say here about U.S. ethnocentrism, but I'll save it for another time. For starters, there's a great tip-of-the-iceberg post over at Maud's.)

The film works more as a character study than a piece of sensationalist cinema (I thought most of it was underplayed--it'll be interesting to see what U.S. reviewers have to say). Told in flashbacks, the film reveals the enigma that is Rosario, transcending clichés and delving into core motivations (I thought the allusions to time were particularly moving). As she herself says, "Amar es más difícil que matar" ("It is more difficult to love than to kill").

It's tentatively slated to open in the U.S. this February.

* UPDATE: The filmsite is finally up and running.

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