Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.5.
USA, 2006. Nuyorican Productions, R-Caro Productions. Story by David Darmstaeder, Todd Bello, Screenplay by Leon Ichaso, David Darmstaeder, Todd Bello. Cinematography by Claudio Chea. Produced by Julio Caro, Simon Fields, Jennifer Lopez, David Maldonado. Music by Willie Colón, Andres Levin. Production Design by Sharon Lomofsky. Costume Design by Sandra Hernandez. Film Editing by David Tedeschi. Toronto International Film Festival 2006.
Pop singer Marc Anthony teams up with his then-wife Jennifer Lopez (who also serves as producer) for a film about famed salsa legend Hector Lavoe. Raised in Puerto Rico, Lavoe (born Hector Perez) left home for New York against his family’s wishes, after a few years finding himself singing on a stage before becoming the king of the musical genre that was the sensation of the seventies. As his wife Puchi (Lopez) relates in a recreation of her 2002 interview, the better he does as an artist, the worse Lavoe becomes as a person, giving in to substance abuse and philandering and turning what started out as a happy marriage into a tempest of constant fights. Anthony isn’t the most charismatic actor and doesn’t carry the movie easily, Lopez far outshines him as the squeaky-voiced, unpredictable woman by his side who is equal parts antagonist and inspiration, but neither of them can get anywhere with the cheap direction of this half-baked film. Rather than ever let us sink into the characters and allow the otherwise well-worn cliches of musician biopics to feel pleasantly familiar, director Leon Ichaso presents the entire tale in a dizzying rapid-cut montage that makes it all ring hollow and tired instead. A few of the musical numbers are highlights but we never get to know who Lavoe is as a person, what music means to him or the role it plays in his feelings about himself or his family.