Mexican beauty Camilla hopes to rise above her station by marrying a wealthy American. That is complicated by meeting Arturo Bandini, a first-generation Italian hoping to land a writing career and a blue-eyed blonde on his arm.
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L.A. in the early 1930's: racism, poverty, and disease color the Bunker Hill neighborhood where Arturo Bandini, a lover of men and beasts alike, has arrived from Colorado to write the great Los Angeles novel. After six months and down to his last nickel, he orders a cup of coffee, served by Camilla Lopez, beautiful, self-possessed, and Mexican. Arturo gets advice, encouragement, and an occasional check from H.L. Mencken, so he keeps writing and he keeps seeing Camilla. But, he's mean to her for no apparent reason, so the relationship sputters. A housekeeper from back East suggests a way out of his jealously and fears. "Camilla Bandini": is it in the cards? Written by
The verbal firework between Farrel and Hayak is a huge plus!
This is a portrayal of people living on the downside of society during the Great Depression; a nice period in time for movies, that offers a pleasantly raw and nihilistic ambiance. Both characters- the writer with more aspirations than experiences to actually write about (Colin Farrel) and the beautiful yet grieving Mexican beauty (Salma Hayek) - wander through the sad streets of L.A, fighting each other and mostly themselves. They love each other, but their own low self esteem and prejudices are standing in the way to form a happy couple. At the core this is just a tragic love story about unreachable love. Nothing wrong with that, of course!
I really enjoyed the verbal confrontations between Hayek and Farrel. Their failure to communicate as equals is ''delightfully sad ''. At a certain point, as they start to understand each other better, they start to talk as normal people, and at that point the story didn't quite get to me as it did before. What remains is a somewhat melodramatic and predictable piece of drama. It isn't necessarily bad, just not that exciting anymore. Sometimes I even checked the time on my DVD player just to see if it would be over soon. Not a very good sign...;)
Ah well, I enjoyed it too much to be cynical about it. It has some marvelous scenes in it, with an atmosphere that really brings back the sense of being in LA during the Great Depression. Farrel and Hayek fitted in their roles perfectly, and it is a pleasure to watch these two beautiful people interact with each other. Donald Sutherland steals the show with a short yet highly enjoyable role.
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