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Reviews & Ratings for
Los debutantes More at IMDbPro »

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13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Spiraling Down the Sink Hole of Chile's Underground

8/10
Author: gradyharp from United States
19 July 2005

Director/writer Andrés Waissbluth worked seven years to complete this two hour film about the crime underground in Santiago, Chile, and perhaps that is one of the reasons the resultant film seems episodic and in need of editing. OR, maybe this is the technique of a director who shows a fine sense of film noir storytelling.

Two brothers - Silvio the elder (Néstor Cantillana) and Victor the younger (Juan Pablo Miranda) - have moved to Santiago from their home in Temuco after their parents' death and Silvio works to support Victor's education. On Victor's seventeenth birthday Silvio takes the virgin out to the clubs where he encourages Victor to lose his virginity with one of the club's stripper/prostitutes. In a tender scene Victor must face his nascent impotency while Silvio is out on the club floor impressing the 'owners' with his potential for hire.

Silvio goes to work for the 'gang' as a bodyguard/henchman and makes good money to support Victor's schooling. But Victor has eyes for one of the dancers at the club named Gracia (Antonella Ríos) and begins to woo her, dropping out of school incurring Silvio's angry disappointment. Gracia just happens to be the squeeze of the club gang's leader Don Pascual (Alejandro Trejo) who is Silvio's boss! Gracia is the glue that holds this tale together as she is the paramour of Victor, Silvio, and Don Pascual and the consequences of this bizarre ménage a trois has deadly results. Through a means of re-telling the story through the eyes of Victor, Silvio, and Gracia we grow to understand the vulnerabilities and the cracks in each character that allow for the downfall that results.

Sound like a Chilean Pulp Fiction? Well, it is and it is filmed in a brutally colorful, dark manner that includes a lot of frontal nudity (both female and male) and provocative sexual encounters. But in the end the sensual aspect of the director's vision is what drives this film, playing on the debutante virginal psyche against the hardcore professional sex worker with success. The cast is fairly strong, especially Antonella Ríos in the demanding role of Gracia. There are enough twists and turns and replays of incidents you think you understood the first viewing but that change dramatically in impact when told through the eyes of a different character. Bordering on two hours, some judicious editing would have helped the impact of the film. In Spanish with English subtitles. Recommended for those who like the edgy film noir style and the art of South American cinema. Grady Harp

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11 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Interesting Chilean version of Pulp Fiction

Author: lazarillo from Denver, Colorado and Santiago, Chile
28 March 2004

I saw this movie in Santiago last summer and unfortunately it will probably not be released outside of that country. It would be interesting to watch it again with English subtitles as Chilean Spanish is notoriously difficult (especially for someone like myself who left that country as a small child in 1973 and grew up speaking English). At times I could have sworn the characters were speaking Italian. The movie is a kind of a South American version of Pulp Fiction with three interweaving narrative strands focusing on a stripper, an inexperienced teen, and his more experienced older brother. It's no Pulp Fiction, but it's superior to most Pulp Fiction knock-offs. Juan Pablo Miranda is very convincing as the teen. Antonella Rios, who plays the stripper, would make even someone who wasn't born in Chile want to go there. Alejandro Trejo is convincing as a gangster/strip club owner, and Anita Alvarado, a local scandal queen known as the "the Geisha of Chile", puts in a cameo as the prostitute who first deflowers the Miranda character. Only Nestor Cantillana as the older brother disappoints, not because he's a bad actor, but because this rail-thin pretty-boy is woefully miscast as a tough-guy bodyguard. Still, check it out if you get a chance.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Summary and part interpretation - bit of a spoiler!

9/10
Author: peteito
20 November 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

An intriguingly bold film weaves the seemingly effortless camerawork with some superb casting and an explosive soundtrack to plot the damaging effects of the crime and corruption of the Santiago underworld on 2 naive young brothers from the southern city of Temuco.

Film debutant Daniella Rios is the seductive erotic dancer Gracia, working in the nightclub owned by the face of the new mini-wave in Chilean film production, Alejandro Trejo. The elder brother, played maturely by Nestor Cantillana, is easily convinced to become Trejo's lead henchman, after a night at the stripclub to celebrate younger brother Victor's (Juan Pablo Miranda) seventeenth birthday. From the establishing shot of this opening scene, the film explodes into neo-noir exploration of everything the outside world doesn't usually expect to see in this country so stereotypically conservative and catholic.

Gracia's charms of seduction attract the three men like bees to honey, although the circular narrative of the three-way fantasy romance revolves around the linear portrayal of major international drug deals between Trejo's men and the 'Gringo', Eduardo Barril. Power relations become a vital theme, as society's outsiders merge in a mini-family. The prostitute holds an exotic spell over all the chilean men in the film, emerging from her ambiguous position in the periphery of society, and is seen as holding the key to all three men's futures. The relationships between Trejo and Cantillana become important, as the boys' parents are conspicious by their absence (one assumes they still live in Temuco). Therefore it is Trejo, el padrino, who 'adopts' Cantillana, and effectively 'makes him' as a man in the city. Miranda rapidly becomes the desperate outsider, as his dependency on his 'father figure', Cantillana, becomes increasingly strained by jealousy over the beautiful Gracia. However, Miranda remains trapped by the constraint of still being in school - he is dependent on Cantillana, who is dependent on Trejo, for the money to survive. Trejo, in turn, is under the thumb of the 'Gringo', and his wealth has been accumulated through drug deals and well as his strip clubs. The figure of Gracia acts as a time bomb viewed as a beautiful firework, she wraps a web of beauty inside the patriarchy but the strain can only lead to one climax.

As the tensions of these power relations come to head, Gracia remains ambiguously elusive. The viewer is never sure which male figure she will commit to. The film concludes tragically and explosively in a shoot out which realigns power relations and erases half the major male protanganists. The final shot of Miranda's beaten face speeding down the PanAmericano highway is despairingly powerful. The boy has been sucked in by the lure of the city's underworld, yet has lost his only visible family, and his woman, who is his only friend in the film. He has nothing. The overriding metaphors are bold and brave. This is a gangster film in Chile. The notions of family, no sex before marriage etc, are abolished, and instead the harsh realities of the other side of Santiago's coin are displayed in all their savage glory. Trejo beats Rios brutally, Rios and Miranda make love in a cinema reel room - a whore having sex with a minor she barely knows. The 'gringos' are seen to have a financial hold over this small Latin American nation, but not through the copper mines, through the illegal path of drugs.

Waissbluth's triumph is in his presentation of this dark underworld, which raises so many social questions, more perhaps than the record-breakingly successful Sexo Con Amor, within a slick, smooth firecracker of a film, which place this film firmly alongside Sexo Con Amor, Taxi Para Tres, and El chacotero Sentimental, as cinematic evidence that Chile is well and truly artistically alive and kicking in the post-transition period 15 years after the censorship of the Military Regime.

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11 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Marginal

5/10
Author: George Parker from Orange County, CA USA
31 January 2005

"Los Debutantes" tells of two brothers who fall for the same women - a singer/stripper who works for a sleazy club owner - and find themselves embroiled in a mess of love, sex, murder, extortion, and more. This two hour flick tells its story three times, each from the perspective of one of three different characters and each time putting more meat on the bones of the plot, raising questions along the way, then answering them in the end. A cheap drama noir which can't hide its low budgetness behind its minimal cast of four, low end production value, and novel approach to story telling, "Los Debutantes" shows some talent (especially Rios who works hard in each substory), but ultimately succumbs to it's obvious lack of dinero. Probably not worth the time for most, "Los Debutantes" may have some value for foreign film buffs, especially Spanish speakers.

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Pretty good

7/10
Author: Dave (phantom2099@hotmail.com) from Puerto Rico
4 July 2005

I was pretty surprised with this flick. Even though their budjet was obviously lacking still you have to be impressed that this movie took 7 years to make and still turned out good. The acting was pretty impressive and the story really captivated me. My only complaint would be that the ending really was a little too abrupt for my taste. But hey if your audience is left wanting more then this movie has succeeded.

I would really recommend anyone in Hollywood to look up Antonella Ríos who is an excellent Spanish talent (something hard to find now days with all the bad novela over acting). Antonella Ríos truly is a star on the rise.

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Pretty good erotic film noir.

7/10
Author: myfavoriteartform from Seattle
27 June 2005

Los Debutantes is the story of two orphaned brothers who have moved to Santiago from the South after their mother dies. The confident and streetwise Silvio, the elder brother, gets a job working for a sleazy strip club's owner after taking the naive Victor there for his 17th birthday.

As Silvio blossoms under his boss's tutelage, both brothers get involved with the owner's sexy and manipulative mistress, Gracia. As the film unfolds, characters are redefined as we begin to see the subtle and overt ways that each one manipulates the next.

The film is well made, with good cinematography and fast pacing. It's also pretty sexy, with a lot of nudity and some fairly explicit sex scenes. It uses the now-popular technique of layering different scenes from different points of view, out of chronological sequence. Many people hate movies like this because they don't understand what's going on - Memento, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, and many other good films use this device. The plot itself is really nothing new, there are elements of Body Heat, Pulp Fiction, and many other good film noir.

As the different layers are revealed, our understandings of the characters and their motivations evolve. While the plot may be somewhat cliché, it is also clever and entertaining.

I would call it an enjoyable movie, worth watching, but nothing memorable. I haven't seen many films from Chile, and it's always interesting to see film noir from other countries. Other than that, rent it if it's available but don't lose any sleep if it isn't.

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Really enjoyable film. Totally unpredictable.

9/10
Author: UK Shaun from United Kingdom
29 December 2012

Really enjoyable film. Totally unpredictable. I had read other people's views on how the camera work is rough / shaky etc - I didn't find this to be the case. Sure there are some scenes, mostly set outside that are a little shaky, but this added to the atmosphere. During the making of we learn that this is Director Andrés Waissbluth first film, which makes it even more amazing. Antonella Ríos who plays Gracia, the girl on the DVD cover with the shaving foam covering her bits, is just so damn sexy. IMDb reveals she did a lot of TV work after, but no films. That makes no sense. All the cast, which isn't that big, do a great job, and really take the viewer to that place, the bar, the house etc. I had my reservations before buying Los Debutantes, buy now I know I should have watched it much sooner. Now it's time to check out the other work from Andrés Waissbluth .

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Not that bad!! Actually quite good.

7/10
Author: properganja from United Kingdom
10 October 2007

Other reviewers here seem to think this is an awful film. That's simply not true and a little unfair.

The acting is of a good quality and the direction moves on with a decent fluidity. I don't think there's anything wrong with the Tarantino-esquire way of interlocking stories together. Perhaps its just a new tool for directors to try. I thought it made the film much more interesting. Perhaps a few elements of the script need tightening, but that's about the only fault I can find. Nestor Cantillana gives a great performance as Sylvio, also Antonella Rios is stunning and worth the price of admission alone.

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2 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

don't try to run before you can walk/crawl

1/10
Author: vailsy from United Kingdom
10 January 2007

this film tries to be immensely clever, and Tarantino-like

before you try that though, you need solid filmic fundamentals. these include good sound, editing, set design etc...

lets talk about the sound in this movie. absolutely atrocious. i have never been more distracted by a sound track, ever

and before we talk about low budget, film made in Chile etc.. lets bear in mind that desent sound these days is far more achievable than it ever has been. anywhere. and more info on technique is available then ever before

the sound in this movie is plain bad. the foley in particular is out of place and inappropriate throughout, the atmos is equally terrible. i heard at least four loud clicks during the movie, which are the result of poor sound editing. the sound inside cars is awful, the sound of car doors closing is awful. the sound of the lady singing is wrong. foley is either overboard, or simply not there like the sound person just got bored and gave up. the spaces are wrong. everything about it is wrong

and yet, not letting limitations of creativity get in the way, at the same time the movie tries boldly to be clever. for example the sound of the aquarium is used in the following street scene. we hear sound when we're not supposed to. sound edits precede visual cuts. every trick in the book is used, and yet the foundations are just not there

editing-wise we have scenes using heavy jump cuts, we have tinkering around with the time line etc etc etc, yawn. all of these techniques are imitated to a splendidly low standard

overall the mix is crap, the sound is crap. and so, the film is crap. how can a movie with so many fundamental flaws be considered for awards and high praise? Chile's cinematic new wave? the best creative output that Chile has to offer? i hope not, and i think not.

my theory is that Chile's more selective and better talent avoided this film like the plague maybe due to its risqué content. equally, the film has likely received so much unwarranted critical acclaim from so called 'world-cinema' enthusiasts for the same grubby reasons. they likely revel in it's trashiness. of course film critics rarely pay attention to technical details and quality

this film is rubbish. it's all mouth and no trousers and is never deserving of a 6.8 rating. the film has all the production quality of a cheap Tarantino, new wave inspired porno!

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