Our Lady of the Assassins
Iím going to start keeping count of how many movies we buy that use pictures on the covers of boxes, which arenít in the movie. Itís almost as if the studio know what people want to see, and pretend thatís what theyíre going to see. I wanted the deep, controversial film that the cover image promised. Instead I got a far from satisfactory, depressing film about street violence in Columbia.
Fernando is a writer in his late 50s, come home to dieónot from any disease, he just seems weary of life. His first stop in the city is to visit an old friend from 30 years ago who seems to be holding a pederastís partyólots of older men pairing off with very young street boys. Alexis looks about 15 and seems to have been invited there expressly for Fernando. They donít even exchange names before the host suggests Fernando (who boasts heís slept with over 1000 boys) takes him to the bedroom. There is no sex in this movie (thank God, given the relative age of these characters).
Alexis was in a street gang, owns a gun and shoots anyone who so much as looks at him disrespectfully. He extends these privileges to Fernando, and the older man, so jaded with life, finds the murders curious then amusing.
Eventually things come full circle for Alexis, and Fernando turns to another boy.
Iím getting pretty tired of wasting my evenings watching movies like this. Good movie about Columbia street deaths. Good cinematography. But plot? Romance? Forget it.
Yet again I have to say this is not a gay movie.† The main characters are gay but thatís completely incidental.† Thereís an intergenerational relationship, between a man in his 50s and a boy of 16, but I wouldnít say itís a love affair, and itís not the focus of the film.† Thereís one sex scene, artily reflected in a mirror.† Though the man and the boy are shown frequently in bed together, thereís no intimacy or expression of feelings.
Fernando is a writer who says heís come home, after 30 years away, to die.† One night at a party heís introduced by a friend to Alexis, Ďthe most fabulous boy in Medelliní.† Heís certainly pretty, very intense with huge soulful eyes.† For a man who claims to have given up on life, Fernando seems joyful to meet Alexis.† They go off to a private room where they have sex, then Alexis goes home with Fernando to his apartment overlooking what must be the most violent city in the world.
Alexis is the only survivor of a gang wiped out by another gang.† He carries a gun, for his own protection he says.† Because the rival gang is out to kill him.† This is what the film is about, a meditation on despair: a generation of boys for whom killing is a reflex action, like throwing a punch.† Fernando says he wants to die but doesnít mean it.† Itís a writerís pose.† Whereas Alexis and countless boys like him in Columbiaís drug capital really donít care whether they live or die.† Drive-by shootings to settle scores are commonplace, so people in the streets hardly even notice.† One more dead kid on a mortuary slab.† Medellin is consumed by violence.† A place where bodies lie beneath a sign that forbids dumping corpses
Fernando is a grumpy old man who moans about incessant noise. So Alexis shoots a taxi driver who refuses to turn down the car radio and a punk kid who stays nearby who plays the drums, loudly every night.† Fernando says he hates violence, yet doesnít try to reform Alexis or remove him from this hellhole.† He buys expensive gifts like a stereo and TV but wonít let Alexis play them.† They visit churches where thereís no solace. Sacred places, filled every night with the flotsam and jetsam of a city where fireworks go off every time a drugs shipment makes it through.† Blood-soaked Christ figures gaze down on Fernando and Alexis, and the Virgin Mary is another mother with a dead child.† If thereís religion in Medellin, itís Old Testament eye-for-an-eye retribution not turn the other cheek forgiveness.† Bullets are blessed, dipped in holy water to make them more deadly.
You're hardly aware of controversial intergenerational love for blood-splattered death, and Alexis is old far beyond his years anyway.† They use each other.† At least Alexis can be excused for knowing no better.† I expected Fernando to save Alexis, show him life doesnít have to be this way.† Fernando observes from his eyrie above the carnage.† He owes his comfortable existence to Mafia money inherited from his dead sister.† Thereís an inevitability about the end, though it has a twist, that further emphasises my point this isnít a story about loveÖor redemptionÖor anything remotely positive.† It looks beautiful and both Fernando and Alexis convince in their parts, but it is just too unrelentingly depressing, despite humorous touches.†† Only watch if you want to be depressed.
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