"When youth is no more than blind impulse, its strength is worthless."
After a minor automobile accident a group of Mexican university students shelters at the home of a 50-ish aristocrat/bachelor/gentleman entomologist played by Rafael Baledon. Among the students camping out at the older gentleman's luxurious domicile is the beautiful Macaria.
Sr. Baledon befriends the students and holds frank dialogues with them about their differing aesthetic tastes and political opinions. They seem to find common ground of a sort when it comes to acceptance of the "new" sexual mores. With the aid of his Jeeves-like manservant, the insect expert manages to insinuate himself into the life of the student group, hosting parties and seeking sexual conquest, with intense but exclusivity-free focus on Macaria.
The "generation gap" was by 1972 a familiar subject in American cinema, which had already produced "Easy Rider" and "Wild in the Streets" as well, it seems, as every frame shot by American International Pictures in the waning years of the Johnson administration.
If generation gap cinema of the late 60's has a formula, that formula tends to require the young to undermine the power of the old. But in "La Fuerza Inutil" it is the cynical older man, a coldly manipulative psychological sadist, who is the subversive provocateur. It is this aging aristocrat who reaffirms his power by engineering the film's concluding humiliation ritual. The students are so many warm-blooded specimens, variants of the collector's rare butterflies and cockroaches being readied for the killing jar.
The film does not limit itself to the expected antithesis of old vs. young. The movie also sets its affectedly "poor" bohemian students against a proudly wealthy man; the communal life of the students in contrast to the solitary luxuriousness of the accomplished amateur scientist; human vs. animal.
I saw this movie on late night Spanish language television a few years after its 1972 release. I saw it again recently. The version I saw lacked subtitles, but English speakers who passed high school Spanish should find the dialogue accessible. All of the actors, particularly Sr. Baledon, deliver their lines with clarity (it helps that much of the talk seems to have been looped in post!). Even some of the speeches in the film's philosophical exchanges are rhetorically accomplished.
Carlos Enrique Taboada's very watchable, original character study also serves as an authentic multicultural time capsule. He understands what keeps an audience interested strong script, solid production values, and interesting performances by the leads especially Macaria's attractive portrayal of a miniskirted coed pursued by Rafael Baledon's remorseless cad.
This well crafted film needs subtitles and a DVD release so that "La Fuerza Inutil" is available to the world.
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