La Virgen Negra (The Black Virgin) narrates the surprising changes in the lives of the people in a small fishing village after the appearance of a Black Virgin. In the authentic style of "...
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La Virgen Negra (The Black Virgin) narrates the surprising changes in the lives of the people in a small fishing village after the appearance of a Black Virgin. In the authentic style of "Postman: Il Postino" (Neruda's Postman by Skármeta) and "Chocolate" by Lasse Hallström, La Virgen Negra is a mixture of magic and comedy that tells a romantic story that takes place in a colorful rural environment saturated with music, sensuality and "sabor". The black virgin stopped it from getting dark, stopped the vandals invasion, killed and sickened some, fattened and thinned others; but above all, disrupted the routine lives of the people in a catholic town, that never imagined it could be a victim of the Caribbean magic. After a few months something unbelievable happened and that is when the inhabitants of "El Pueblo de Negros" had to face the most cruel change of all, the one, no one could avoid. Written by
Pa'los Panas Producciones
The venezuelan cinema is plagued of easy-effect movies, and most writers resort to the well-known formulas for appealing crowds: sex and violence. Add poverty and low production values due to tight budgets and voilá you get yourself an all-venezuelan movie. No wonder our cinema is not supported by many in the country.
However, La Virgen Negra (The Black Virgin) sweep aside the recipe and director Ignacio Castillo adventures itself into a more bold project, not re-inventing anything but making use of magnificent resorts already elaborated by Latin-American writers of the boom era.
In a coast town somewhere in the Caribbean, which we venezuelan viewers like to think is located in Venezuela, Manita (Carolina Torres) is troubled because his man does not want to please her anymore, so she seeks help in Lurdita played wonderfully by Angélica Aragón -Lurdita is a sort of mysterious local character who everyone knows have some obscure magical tricks- to make her husband love her again. Lurdita accepts to help her with one condition: Manita must have the town's virgin replaced by a black virgin that Lurdita will provide. The town at first rejects the ugly virgin but since Manita did the change supported by Ms. Isabel (Carmen Maura), the town leader, they ended up accepting the statue and even asking for miracles which start to happen all over the town. The only problem is the unlimited generosity of the black virgin to concede miracles to anyone who ask for one with the subsequent unexpected results.
The acting is very good, with a supporting cast assembled of seasoned hispanoamerican actors (Carmen Maura, Angélica Aragón, Francisco Díaz, Caridad Canelón) as well as new young promises (Geily Rosales who plays Negrita a young little girl with an unleashed tongue who provides most of the script's smiles). The vivid colors of the tropical scenery are treat to our senses and the witty script also by Ignacio Castillo, keeps us smiling almost every minute. The only thing I would criticized is the selection of the Franklin character as the voice in off, the script is too elaborated for making us believe that a 10 years old kid in a very isolated town with poor education could be capable of delivering it. It took away more opportunities for stealing smiles from the audience, but the movie is so charming that this mistake is easily forgivable.
La Virgen Negra is the proof that Venezuela can make honest cinema of good quality with a low budget.
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