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Latin Representation: Healing Personal Wounds at Toronto Film Festival ‘21

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By Roger Costa

LA SOGA 2

It’s been a decade since Manny Perez investigated his own life and exposed the lawless, corruptive government of Dominican Republic with the incendiary first part of the bloody saga of the complex assassin. Now, he makes his directorial debut with the much-awaited sequel, demonstrating efficiency and high potential behind the camera. The writer-producer-actor and director infuses sharp socio-political commentary to the action-packed material, crafting an overall satisfying and entertaining fantasy that mirrors contemporary issues with its unrealistic, yet electrifying fight scenes.

Doing his best to avoid the dangerous underworld and erase his past as the infamously brutal and feared governmental assassin, Luisito is haunted by his own principles and new motivations when his wife is kidnapped by a group of mercenaries led by a revengeful femme fatale. He goes on a hunt for those criminals, in order to rescue his extremely-tortured wife, while trying to hide his identity from other parts as well. Using great cinematography, impressive editing and music, Perez fully displays the brutality and cruelty of the situation, giving audiences exactly what one expects from such an action flick: promptly delivered, exciting, explosive bloody battles. And those are constantly burning through the screen in this sequel of the Latino-Anti-hero saga.

A wild, absurd fun-ride that feels like a blend of Scorsese, Haneke and Tarantino, it is an uncompromising and satisfyingly entertaining action film with a coherent political backdrop.

LO INVISIBLE

Remarkably observational and deeply intimate, Ecuadorian director Javier Andrade‘s accomplished drama is an exquisite post-partum depression dramatic thriller anchored by one of this year’s most intriguing female characters. Leading actress Anahi Hoeneisen delivers an enigmatic performance as a woman in crisis with motherhood, her body and the world around her.

The camera compulsively follows the steps of the wealthy, anxious, ambiguous and uneasy woman inside the big, luxurious and crowded house. She’s 45, recently gave birth and has just arrived from a clinic where she was mentally treated for trying to hurt her own newborn baby. The fact remains as a mystery throughout the narrative, whether she did it or not, while it explores the reactions and interactions with her family, and the many servants. Their relationship and bond are special and long enduring, just as it is supportive in the process of trying to find cure. She sadly mutilates herself as a response to her emotional disorder, reflected in the mutual rejection of her own baby child and her cold treatment towards others, including a visibly loveless marriage. Her uneasiness affects the servants, jeopardizing their integrity, while preparing a big party for her parents’ 50th anniversary celebration.

Delicate and unique, Andrade explores the material with masterful skills, composing a disturbingly enigmatic and bold character study, superbly shot and meticulously narrated, establishing himself as a new Latin American auteur.

Deeply moving, strong and contemplative, it is an accurate portrait of a woman’s midlife’s crisis.

 (Both films are Official Selections at Toronto Film Festival 2021 running thru September 18th in-person and virtually where available.)


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