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
When Robert Towne first approached Salma Hayek for the role of Camilla Lopez, she turned it down because she didn't want to be typecast as a Mexican. She accepted the role eight years later. See more »
Interesting adaptation after a novel, but ultimately boring.
The movie has the hallmark of old American writings, with lots of metaphors and big words for showing what is really everyday life. The script is original, unlike most of the films today, because is based on a book about the depression era in the US. The actors play very well and the images are very well done. I would venture to say the soundtrack was equally flawless, since it didn't bother me one bit (didn't really notice it, either).
So what was wrong about the movie? I don't know. Maybe the pace, since it was two hours long. Or the subject, which was ... smooth. I mean, there were no real bumps in it. Everything just went by itself. In the tradition of "road writers" the character is almost an observer, left to his own emotions, but incapable of acting. I can't say that characters weren't original, but more in the direction of weirdly annoying rather than interesting.
Bottom line: it's a drama. The romance itself is strong, not the diluted stuff you see nowadays, but I wouldn't call this a romantic movie. I suggest watching it when you feel philosophical or want something new, yet slow paced.
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