Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Movie Review: El Cantante

El Cantante depicts the tragic life of Héctor Lavoe who is played by Marc Anthony. Jennifer Lopez plays his wife Puchi. I really loved this movie for a few reasons. First of all, I dig Salsa and had never heard any by Héctor Lavoe. The music was produced perfectly and I found myself wishing there was more. I went to the movie with my Mom and she had seen Héctor live in concert in 1971 and loved him then. We saw the movie with an enthusiastic Hispanic audience who applauded at the end. I am also a Marc Anthony fan and feel that he is a consummate musical entertainer. Finally, the movie presents the notion that Salsa was created as a blend of Latin music and a New York City sound for Willie Colòn, played by John Ortiz, and Héctor. Then the movie follows the time line of music as written for Héctor.

The story is told somewhat melodramatically by Puchi. That probably could have been toned down a bit. Marc Anthony’s acting was understated compared to Jennifer’s flashy talent. He handled being drugged out just fine, but when he was suicidal or suffering, I tried not to picture what a fine actor, such as Sean Penn, could have done with the script. (But we all know that Sean can’t sing worth a damn compared to Marc.)

He came to New York from Puerto Rico at 17 years old and quickly found a gig singing with a band. His popularity as a singer rose quickly. Héctor’s life was truly tragic; he lost all of his close family members in a short time span including his mother, father and 18 year old son. He was addicted to drugs most of his adult life and attempted suicide twice. He became HIV+ and died from AIDS 5 years after his last suicide attempt, at age 46 in 1993.

Aside from the somewhat weak acting on Marc Anthony’s part and melodrama on Ms. Lopez’s, if you love Salsa and/or are from the Latino Culture, you will love this film. If not, give it a skip. My rating is:

*** of five stars

The best news is that the soundtrack is available now. I already bought it on iTunes.


Sh@ney said...

I adore J-Lo...All her movies...She is my wonder woman...*winks*
I cant stand that idiot she married though, so it makes the movie unappealing now...Should I swallow pride & check it out...I dont know if I can lower my standards for Jennifer...lol

Doug said...

Think I'll wait for the DVD on this one. Love Latin music and I love melodramatic show biz biographies, so I was curious about this movie. Thanks for the review, Sue!

Sue said...

I think you will both love the movie! It has kind of a documentary feel at times though since she tells the story during an interview and it is done during flashbacks. But it is very melodramatic and there is tons of implied sex. I say go for it!