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Locos de amor (2001)
Intense, adapted but confusing...
***SLIGHT SPOILERS*** Vicente Castro's and Jorge Luis Ramos's adaptation of `Romeo and Juliet', transformed into a local Puerto Rican two-hour movie, didn't do much to impress or capture the lost imagination of Puerto Rican cinema. Instead, it took us through a wild and intense background of the so-called `caseríos' neighborhood which prevented the audience to visualize further more of the beauty of the island of Puerto Rico. If the creators of this film intends to catch the attention of local audiences, then I don't think selling drugs, gangs in confrontations and family problems are the right elements to use to represent our Puerto Rican culture. What will people think of us? Of course, me living in Puerto Rico, I have the responsibility to defend my homeland and my passion which is film.
As of now, these two filmmakers have decided to adapt the main idea, conflict and drama from `Romero and Juliet' and transformed it into our dark culture. But why so much darkness composed in this beautiful classic soap-opera. Of course, there were intense sequences in the original play from Shakespeare, but all I'm saying is that there're millions of locations and environments in Puerto Rico that can be useful for making such movies. But not only the mood of the film makes it un-challenging, but it's the details.
If Castro and Ramos really wanted us to believe that we're watching a Romeo and Juliet, then you can't change one fraction of the drama. Please, they should of maintained the parent's as the original villains of the story, not finish it with a twist that's impossible to believe (it's the leading girl's cousin `Bernie' becomes the primary suspect). But then again I ask this: what the cousin had to do with the couple in love? In only one scene of the film, he interferes with the relationship of this couple (the scene of the welcome back party in the bay). Then, the hour and a half that's left of the movie, Bernie's biggest confrontations becomes involved in murder. Then we come back to the couple, they're in love, but it's a cliché romance. The initiation of this romance begins by generalizing what we feel when we're in love. We see both of them in their houses (far away from distance) talking by themselves in their balcony, saying `oh how much I love her!" So now it's not film anymore, is theater. Remember FILM IS FILM and THEATER IS THEATER. There's no such thing as FILM with THEATER. What these producers have done with this film is to force us and to confuse us that we're seeing a combination of local drama with theater. There's no determination which genre we're watching.
As the film develops, Bernie's trouble with gangs gets worse, Azálea (played by Jazmín Caratini) and Urayoán (played by Oscar H. Guerrero) are immensely in love with each other, which leaded them to get married. Both of their parents prohibited them to get married because they were individuals trying to win the past local elections, in which none of them won. So they've kept a strong distance between them. Ok, it's still `Romeo and Juliet', but the drama breaks away when there's a severe situation in the neighborhood when Bernie starts a gun war against other gangsters, and through that scene, Urayoán interferes with those gangsters and accidentally got shot. He dies, and she (Azálea) holds him by her arms saying each other their last words together. That last scene is presented with a very sad background music that might've helped this scene feel sad and depressive. But, if we look back to the original `Romeo and Juliet', Juliet's parents announces Romeo that Juliet is dead, so then he committed suicide while she was still alive. By the end of the play we realize that Juliet was fine, only that her parents set Romeo up to make him think she was dead. Of course she was still in love with him. But no, the film whatsoever ends with the man's death caused by her cousin, having only a bit of interaction with the leading characters. So in general, it's now very confusing.
I can't believe I could only find a few positive aspects about this film. I've always said that the best actors working in Puerto Rican grounds are in theater and television. Local cinema actors are horrible. The only acting performance that really caught my attention was actress Jazmín Caratini who played (Azálea, the leading character). I saw her for the first time in this film, LOCOS DE AMOR, and reviewed other local movies such as EL TESORO DEL YUNQUE which she wasn't much as a leading character to me in that film, but she played a smooth and warm performance. There was another release of Jorge Luis Ramos and Vicente Castro's new holiday movie released this Christmas of 2002 called `EL NACIMIENTO', in which Jazmín gave her most brilliant performance compared to the first three films she acted in. I would definitely want to see her future as an actress. If there's a section in imdb.com for this film (El Nacimiento), I would comment on it, but this essay is strictly for LOCOS DE AMOR.
To close this essay, all I have to say is that this filmmaking partnership of Ramos and Castro is heading nowhere. My recommendation is that if they're the most highly recognized filmmakers of local/Puerto Rican cinema, then stop developing the same type of stories, dramas and conflicts. Don't stick to same ideas and people, I know dozens of amazing storytellers that can help you build a good story for film. All they have to do is stop being independent for a minute and focus on this phrase `let's do something that our audience have never seen before'. And I'm not saying to intensify the genre of action, violence and sex; but look for a good STORY (original, impressive and new). But please, don't keep shooting in the same places. If AMORES QUE MATAN (Castros and Ramos biggest production ever) was so great, known for me as one of the best made here, why don't look back and tell a great story like that one?
Star rating: ** out of ****
Best of luck to your future productions.