1 item from 1996
A boxoffice hit in Argentina and that country's official bid for an Oscar nomination as best foreign language film, "Eva Peron" is a straightforward, somewhat melodramatic but highly watchable and in many ways triumphant screen biography of the charismatic social outcast who championed the rights of women and the poor in the mid-1940s to early 1950s before dying of cancer at age 33.
Directed by Juan Carlos Desanzo and written by Jose Pablo Feinmann, "Eva Peron" soars thanks to the terrific performances by Esther Goris as the driven, uncompromising lead and co-star Victor Laplace as Juan Peron, the great love of her life and Argentina's most powerful political figure of the era. The film is playing in a limited engagement at the Mann Plaza in Westwood.
While the big-budget musical "Evita" strains to incorporate history into an operatic vehicle for Madonna, "Eva Peron" is all about the political realities that conspire against the Perons on the eve of national elections in 1952. And this Evita is one tough lady. Bedridden near the end of her life, she defiantly proclaims: "I won't stop breaking balls until I'm dead and buried."
In flashbacks, a few key moments from Eva's life are related -- her father's funeral, her first meeting with Peron -- but there's less emphasis on the glamorous aspects of her life and much more than one expects about her stern attitude toward enemies and disagreeable allies. A bitter foe of the "establishment machos" and well-spoken friend to labor, Eva is portrayed as a pragmatic usurper with no patience for fools and, consequently, few real friends.
When Goris flashes her wide smile, it's easy to see how a serious fellow like Peron and millions of others would skip a few heartbeats, but the actress is equally persuasive as an unyielding negotiator and inspirational public speaker. A stunning high point of the film is also the couple's low point, when Juan tells Eva she has cancer. Laplace's genuine emotions are contrasted by Goris' initially furious response in a scene that will leave few dry eyes in the audience.
Exceptionally well-paced -- the film never gets bogged down and feels like it's a reel short of its two-hour running time -- "Eva Peron" uses its modest budget well, although the matching of historical crowd scenes with new footage is a tad distracting. Cinematically, the film is not as polished as it could be. But the story could not be more compelling and full of life's great contradictions, embodied by courageous individuals fighting totalitarianism in a "merciless country."
S.A. Argentine Institute for Cinema
A film by Juan Carlos Desanzo
Director Juan Carlos Desanzo
Executive producer Maria De La Paz Marino
Writer Jose Pablo Feinmann
Director of photography Juan Carlos Lenardi
Editor Sergio Zottola
Music Jose Luis Castineira De Dios
Art director Miguel Angel Lumaldo
Costume design Lenor Puga Sabate
Eva Peron Esther Goris
Juan Peron Victor Laplace
Running time -- 119 minutes
No MPAA rating
1 item from 1996
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