Film about the writer Manuel Puig and the years he spent in Río de Janeiro.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Fabio Aste ...
Manuel Puig
Sílvia Buarque ...
Teresa
Gigi Rua ...
May
Mimí Ardú ...
Kari Kerr
Revero Riveiro ...
Dudi
Jonathas Mello ...
Roy
Laura Zaccara ...
Carmen
Paulo Brunetti ...
Taxi Boy
Mauricio Silveira ...
Edoardo
Alejandro Baratelli ...
Néstor Perlongher
Matías Taverna ...
Joven
Alessandra de Oliveira ...
Paula
Pablo Bucca ...
Acompañante
Jacqueline Andrade ...
Vecina
Jair Barbosa ...
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Film about the writer Manuel Puig and the years he spent in Río de Janeiro.

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24 February 2005 (Argentina)  »

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1.78 : 1 / (high definition)
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A Glimpse into the Fascinating Life of Author Manuel Puig
19 April 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

One of the most fascinating Latin American authors of the past century is Manuel Puig (1932 - 1990) and VEREDA TROPICAL, much like another similar author Reinaldo Arenas' mini-biography 'Before Night Falls', shows at least the last few years of his colorful life in Rio de Janeiro before he moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico where he died from a heart attack after surgery at the too young age of 57. It is a period piece, meant to capture some of the fantastical world about which Puig successfully wrote, and while it is not of documentary accuracy, the film has a flavor that is irresistibly reminiscent of Latin American 'magical realism'.

Manuel Puig was born in the pampas village of General Villegas, Argentina where his perception of the world was formed by a father who was brutish and a mother who was a victim, forcing Puig to find the preferable world of the movies as his preferred version of reality. To quote his biographer and translator Suzanne Jill Levine "...he saw that people around him were always acting, playing out roles imported from elsewhere-they all knew that they were copies, and they talked that tawdry, borrowed language, la cursilería personified. The men thought that they were acting out what is expected of men-a pitiful machismo, domesticated gaucho ethics. For the then child Manuel Puig, film was the only reality; after all, at least in the movie, everybody was supposed to be acting!".

The film, written and directed by Argentinean Javier Torre, confines his story to only a few years while Puig was exiled from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (much of Puig's life was spent in Europe and other places due to the mixed reception to his gay lifestyle in Buenos Aires). Puig (Fabio Aste) has already become famous for his 'Kiss of the Spider Woman', 'Heartbreak Tango', and other plays and novels and screenplays. He is comfortably ensconced in an expensive apartment and has glamorous friends like May (Gigi Rua), the flamboyant actress Kari Kerr (Mimi Ardu) as well as members of the intelligentsia like poet Nestor Perlongher (Alejandro Baratelli) and scholar Teresa (Silvia Buarque). He has a weekend lover, a married man who spends his time away from wife and children as Manuel's paramour, and otherwise spends his time with other Taxi Boys (Paulo Brunetti, et al) from whom he records dialogues for his racy novels.

Manuel lives under the fear that he may have AIDS and is encouraged by his friends to be tested. When he discovers he is negative for HIV, he becomes even more flamboyant in his appearance and behavior, not wanting to admit he is in his 50s and therefore unable to attract young men at the beaches and in bars. After a couple of disappointing encounters, both violent and simply pathetic, he decides to move to Cuernavaca, and it is this decision and its manifestations that form the ending of this tender film.

Fabio Aste gives a fine performance as Puig, unafraid to walk the narrow line of effeminacy and parody. Each of the female leads is outstanding - rich in character detail and able to convey how much Puig was loved by women. Torre fills the film with quips from old Rita Hayworth movies (one of Puig's first novels was 'Betrayed by Rita Hayworth'), showing how Puig was seemingly more at home in the magic of the silver screen than the gritty reality of life in the streets of Rio de Janeiro. The sexual scenes, both domestic and street, are done with restraint without losing dramatic impact.

The film is from Argentina and while it supposedly is in Spanish with English subtitles, there is a lot of Portuguese spoken (as one would expect in Rio de Janeiro) and the synchronization of the dialogue with the actors seems out of focus. There is also a lack of editing out background noise that at times covers the dialogue: the film does have the look of a low budget Indie. But given these minor flaws this remains a most entertaining and enlightening film, especially for those who love the works of Manuel Puig! Highly Recommended.


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