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Edward James Olmos
Mary Fiore is San Francisco's most successful supplier of romance and glamor. She knows all the tricks. She knows all the rules. But then she breaks the most important rule of all: she falls in love with the groom.
The rise and fall of salsa singer, Héctor Lavoe (1946-1993), as told from the perspective of his wife Puchi, who looks back from 2002. In the early 1960s, Héctor arrives in New York from Ponce, Puerto Rico. Success comes quickly. "The more he grew as an artist," Puchi says, "the more he sank as a person." It's a tale of talent - creating salsa with Willie Colón, with the Fania All Stars, and as a soloist - and a story of disintegration - fueled by drugs, alcohol, partying, and depression. Puchi's voice - proud and querulous - dominates off-stage as Héctor's does on. Written by
In the scene where Hector Perez signs his contract with Jerry Masucci, and is given the name Hector La Voe. Willie Colon is standing behind him. On the wall behind Willie is a framed album cover of "The Hustler", the second album they made together. At this point in the story they have not yet recorded together. See more »
Do you, Hector...
He does. Hector, say I do.
[looks around menancingly]
See more »
First of all, this film is not as bad as people are saying it is. Jennifer Lopez is good and Mark Anthony is great. The music alone is worth your money. That, however, is where the praise must end.
Unfortunately, the script seems sloppy. There's no structure to the story, and the film fails for it. Moments that should be important seem to occur too quickly to feel because the screenwriter(s) seems to lack a sense of pace.
This could have been helped by a good director. Unfortunately, again, the director was one of the screenwriters, which of course didn't bode well for his sense of pacing. The film is jarringly disconnected and the characters, even Lavoe himself, are far less developed than they should be.
Had a film like "Ray" never been released, "El Cantante" would have met every expectation of the public. Unfortunately for the filmmakers of "El Cantante", "Ray" provided a structured script that developed the lead as well as the supporters. "El Cantante" seems to half-develop Puchi and Lavoe, and give really no more than minimal screen time to any supporting cast.
Which leads to probably the biggest problem of all. This film is told through the eyes of Puchi, Hector's wife. While this should provide an insight to who Hector was as a person, it's a very slanted account and the average moviegoer can tell that important things have been left out. This isn't like "Ray", where Ray Charles himself was giving the story and therefore could tell things how they were. Puchi (and subsequently the film) only seems to mention the other women in Hector's life in passing, focuses very little on the tours that Hector undoubtedly went on without her, and really doesn't let us into the world of the entertainment business in the 60's and 70's. Some of this, I'm sure, is because Puchi just didn't know about these things. Some of it too, I suspect, is because she didn't want it in the movie.
This problem would have been rectified if the film was about Puchi with Hector as a supporting character, and if consequently Puchi had been developed to her fullest capabilities. That did not happen.
One has to wonder if some of the reason for the lack of character development and pacing is because they caught wind of the other Lavoe film "The Singer" and tried to rush to beat it to the theaters.
In the end, this film is worth the watch. Is it a classic? No. Is it a good time? Absolutely. There may be another, better Lavoe movie released in our lifetimes. Right now, this film is worth it.
The Script gets a "D". The Director gets a "B", if for no other reason than amazing musical scenes. The Actors get an "A".
Therefore, I give the film a solid B+.
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