By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
The country of Venezuela was well represented at Cine Las Americas this year, especially on the last day of the festival where I saw three films from Venezuela, back-to-back. This period piece based on the actual memoirs of soldier fighting in the Venezuelan War of Independence from the Spanish Empire. Erich Wildpret stars as Braulio, a native Venezuelan who, while fighting for his country, is taken prisoner by the enemy and forced to fight for Spain. During a cease-fire between both sides, Braulio falls in love with a secret revolutionary named Lucia (Marisa Roman). As the rebels plan a new attack in one last attempt at independence, Braulio and others fighting for Spain begin to realize that they are fighting on the wrong side and must defend their country’s soil and people from the Imperialists who invaded them.
Even though this film offers an interesting look at the politics and the conflicts that the native people of Venezuela faced during this turbulent time, I couldn’t help but be distracted by the fact that the movie often plays out like a telenovela (soap opera) with some questionable writing, occasionally corny and hammy acting and the obvious constraints of a limited budget. Despite these problems, I still enjoyed the film. For a telenovela-type film, it actually isn’t that bad and can be taken somewhat seriously. Writer/director Caupolican Ovalles, who co-writes with Edgar Narvaez, does succeed in making a romantic wartime drama, but one that seems more appropriate for television and not the cinema.