Desde Allá Review
Desde Allá is a Venezuelan drama film directed by Lorenzo Vigas and starring Alfredo Castro and Luis Silva. It won the Golden Lion at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival, but is an overrated movie.
It is about a wealthy older man who starts to have a relationship with a young boy from a street gang. This is a great premise with a lot of potential, but that is all wasted on a pretty mediocre approach and weak execution. I was really disappointed with this film. The plot is so clichéd and incredibly unrealistic. It is presented with a pretentiously grounded approach, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is typical and hard to buy. I never believed in this story in any way and that is a major problem the movie never overcame.
The characters are also troublesome. Armando is so unlikable and just plain boring with his lifeless behavior and a tired, expressionless face that he always makes. Elder is a much better character and although his motivations and change of heart is naturally so unrealistic, he is still much better realized and even more likable and lifelike than his partner.
The relationship between the two is the reason why the movie fails in my honest opinion. It is just so raw and emotionless with no real emotion ever to be found and with no romance whatsoever. And in their relationship you can unfortunately see the soapy nature of the movie which is definitely present. Their whole story is so unbelievable and filled with typical twists and turns, the exchange from cold to sexual moments and the overreliance on clichés that it certainly feels like a soap opera and that is the film’s biggest offender.
I also found its sexual aspects problematic while also being satisfying in other scenes. For example, I did find its sexual emphasis when camera movements are concerned interesting. The camera is always on the lips or the hips of the characters and that was done in a good way and was sensual, but the sex itself when it finally happens is so emotionally cold, so raw and just too quick and badly put together. It never knows what it wants to be as it is never particularly romantic or particularly sexual and at least one direction between the two should have been taken and that would have made the movie much better.
Another dissatisfactory aspect to it definitely has to be its overly ambiguous nature and the distinct lack of dialogue. The choice to have the characters literally say a couple of simple lines in each scene hurts the movie so badly as that is both unrealistic and just so disappointing as it never lets you know and meet these two characters. You never get to know their past and some things are just left to audience’s interpretation and not in a good way. I am talking about the role of Armando’s father in the story and the motivations that drive the protagonist’s character are never fully realized and it is always frustrating to follow his constantly opposite actions.
It is definitely exotic and engaging and although too slow, it was involving to watch to me and it is always interesting to say the least. Its violent actions are weird, but thankfully never too showing and the story here, although typical, soapy and weakly realized, is still okay and has its moments. Some parts here I really loved and that is in particular the dancing sequence which is so well shot and intriguing and the dinner scene is interesting. I wish that there were more scenes like that and I wish that the movie was smarter as it does have its sophisticated themes that are never fully explored or at times even touched upon in any way.
Desde Allá is so well shot and it is incredibly well directed and acted. Both actors did a pretty good job in their roles and Luis Silva is particularly good. It is solidly scored, but the pacing is weak as some scenes are overdrawn and just too boring. The movie is realistic in some areas, but is mostly unrealistic and the dialogue is too simplistic and so disappointing. It is unpredictable which is a good thing, but still that ending should have been much better handled. This film is such a lost potential which is even more frustrating when you look at its solid presentation and some powerful scenes. It is an okay film that is unfortunately not particularly good and far from great which is why its Golden Lion is undeserved.