Humberto Fuentes is a wealthy doctor whose wife has recently died. In spite of the advice of his children, he takes a trip to visit his former students who now work in impoverished villages... See full summary »
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Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio,
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Humberto Fuentes is a wealthy doctor whose wife has recently died. In spite of the advice of his children, he takes a trip to visit his former students who now work in impoverished villages. His trip soon becomes a quest, politically awakening him when he finds out that one of his students was killed by the army. Written by
Once again screenwriter/director John Sayles has done it. I was flipping through the channels, and saw a movie in Spanish. I am a Spanish major so whenever a chance to listen to some dialog comes along, I usually will listen for a few minutes just for practice.
I became totally engrossed. I hit the info button on my DVR to see the name of the movie. I was on IFC channel & it said it was a movie about hoodlums. Uh, no... There was another movie same year same name that I've no doubt wasn't anywhere near as wonderful as this one. So I paused the DVR at the end & looked up Federico Luppi & crossed referenced it with Damián Delgado to find the real name of the movie. Which turned out to be this one. Enough of how I found it...
This is another great example of supreme storytelling by John Sayles. Anyone who has seen Lone Star or Passion Fish knows that he is a storyteller extraordinaire. Not to mention he usually manages to throw in some meaning. Another reviewer complained that there was meaning. Weird... I don't see anything wrong with that. Isn't that what most of us are searching for? In this story Dr. Fuentes is in an unidentified South American country that has been ripped apart by war and guerillas. He is searching for his students, doctors who were trying to help the indigenous population through medicine. He finds wherever he goes that his students are dead or missing. Along the way he encounters a boy with no family that becomes his "mascot" and later a deserter from the army with a hideous past. Then a priest who has lost faith, then a young girl who is mute. Each person has a story to tell, each person a part of the puzzle of what it is to be human and alive.
I loved the ending, because it showed that even when we think our lives have been pointless, we have like the concentric ripples in a lake after a stone is dropped, affected those around us. Our legacy lives on through the lives we have touched, whether we know it or not. I think that we think there should be some kind of concrete evidence that WE can measure to define our legacy, but it is never what we think it is, there is mystery, magic in the way that our lives mingle and combine to form meaning. Much like in "It's a Wonderful Life," even if you think you've contributed nothing it's not true. Or in the words of the immortal Whitman: "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless- of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life? Answer: That you are here- that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse." (from Whitman's Leaves of Grass) What this movie says is just that- that each person's verse, identity contributes to the great scheme of things. I won't give away the ending of the movie, but the whole thing is just a grand example of a good story. Don't be bothered by the subtitles, it's a great movie in any language. And btw, the subtitles were pretty much right on. I just hate when I watch a subtitled movie & the translation sucks or is lacking. This is a great story, interesting people, good pacing (also directed by Sayles), and good acting too. I wish that more people could see this movie. God bless the Independent Film Channel. :)
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