Natalia Pelayo & Alejandra Baldoni in “Aniceto” [2008 Argentina]

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Now here’s something different – a film musical..!

Veteran actor-filmmaker Leonardo Favio revisits a film he made forty years earlier (El romance del Aniceto y la Francisca) – this time, as a musical, “Aniceto”. Favio produced this popular story as a modern ballet, with a unique blend of Latin American rhythms like Tango and Cumbia.

It was refreshing to see a film with minimalist set design, allowing us to follow the characters more intimately, and without too many distracting elements. Aided by excellent art direction and great choice of music, Favio had done a fine musical version of the story using his exceptionally talented cast.

Aniceto, a happy-go-lucky lad makes a living by organising cock-fights using his prized rooster. One day, he sees gypsy girl La Francisca, newly arrived in town and looking for work, and charms her. The naive Francisca also falls in love and goes to live with him. But when mysterious and attractive Lucía moves into the neighbourhood, it is Aniceto’s turn to fall under her spell – he showers her with gifts and falls in love with her. When Francisca learns of the affair and realises that he doesn’t love her as much as she does, she leaves, from which point Aniceto’s fortunes take a turn for the worse.

Even if it is a simple story, the film narrates it with charm and grace. However – it left me wondering whether Sr. Favio, in making this film ballet, had fully exploited the medium to his advantage. Granted, the actors in the film are predominantly professional dancers, and facial expressions expected in close-ups may not be their particular strength, but I felt some other film making tools were also under-utilised, particularly the editing, and camera angles. Perhaps I’ve been spoilt watching too many musicals by Spanish auteur Carlos Saura – he wouldn’t shy away from using cinematic techniques that would help his storytelling. The sound engineering could also be better, as could the choreography restrained, focusing more on the story than angles and movement, which are great on their own, but perhaps more appropriate for theatre than cinema. Never mind – I am just nit picking – it’s a great film with awesome performances by the three main characters, and therefore, Recommended Viewing.



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