Sex, Drugs and Salsa
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony,
Manny Perez, and John Ortiz
Runtime: 116 minutes
Distributor: Picturehouse Entertainment
Director: Leon Ichaso
Executive Producer: None
Producer: David Maldonado, Jennifer
Lopez, Julio Caro, and Simon
Writer: Leon Ichaso, David
Darmstaedter and Todd Anthony
Address Comments To:Bob Berney, President
(A division of New Line Cinema)
597 Fifth Avenue, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 303-1700
Fax: (212) 421-1163
Puchi, Hector’s wife and helpmate, is the first to appear in the movie, in an interview set in our current day. She snaps at the interviewer for the tone of the question he asks her on the sensitive subject of her late husband. The candid frustration she shows sets the tone for most of the interaction among the movie’s characters. The interview then leads the audience through time, and, before viewers can gain their bearings, they are in the 1960s. There, the movie relives the birth of a musical art form that became known as salsa.
EL CANTANTE chronicles the rise and fall of a musical innovator. The filmmakers want to bring a true life story to the moviegoer. They want people to understand why Hector Lavoe remains one of the greatest music icons that ever lived. They want Americans to understand what an impact Lavoe had on the Latino community. The people who invested in the film also want people to know Hector as he really lived. They do not want people to be limited to the opinions and headlines created by the press during his career. The moviegoer is given a bird’s eye view into why Hector acted the way he did and what was going on in his life behind closed doors. Through his wife Puchi’s memory, the audience is given this gift, which turns out to be a mixed blessing, to say the least.
The music in EL CANTANTE is infectious and masterful, which is a testament to the art form Hector Lavoe helped create. The filmmakers offer a crash course, of sorts, in the language of salsa. Each song chosen in the movie is relevant and progressive within the plot.
The foul language in the movie, however, consistently violates the ears of the audience. Obscenities and profanities litter the work without apology. Despite the love that Hector and Puchi have for each other, their lives seem to be a constant stream of curse words and verbal fighting with one another.
Another downside is the movie’s numerous illustrations of Hector’s addiction to illegal drugs. These problems are depicted graphically, accurately, and often. Characters are shown smoking, snorting and shooting up all sorts of illegal substances (marijuana, crack cocaine, etc.). This lifestyle shows how Hector dealt with his constant hardships and struggles. While initially fascinating, the movie ends up affecting the audience in a negative way. The plot line concentrates on Hector’s problems, which causes a depressing mood, making the movie feel too long.
The movie also brings light, however, to Lavoe’s Roman Catholic background. At one point in the film, he meets with some leaders of the Catholic Church and receives council. They explain to him that his gift of song is from the Lord, and he must use it for God’s glory. Later, they perform a ritual to rid Hector of evil. Opposing this positive Christian content is a song where the lyrics express, “Everything has an end. . . . There’s no eternity.” Thus, the movie also contains a definite unbiblical mindset, with strong and very strong Romantic, pagan elements. There is also a point where someone refers to another character as psychic, an occult belief condemned by the Bible, the Word of God.
The foul language in EL CANTANTE consistently violates the ears of the audience. Obscenities and profanities litter the work without apology. Despite the love that Hector and Puchi have for each other, their lives seem to be a constant stream of curse words and verbal fighting. Another downside are the numerous illustrations of Hector’s addiction to illegal drugs. These problems are depicted graphically, accurately and often. Despite some positive Christian content, Hector’s disintegrating lifestyle shows how poorly Hector dealt with his constant hardships and struggles. While initially fascinating, the movie ends up affecting viewers in a negative way. The plot line causes a depressing mood to be established, making the movie feel too long.