I'm only part way through El Cantante, but I don't know if I can make it to the end. It's not that the movie is dreadful; it's just that we've seen this type of story so many times before. And by "so many times before", I mean so, so, so, so, so many times before.
El Cantante is about the rise and fall of Latin singer Hector Lavoe (Marc Anthony) through the eyes of his wife/girlfriend Puchi (Jennifer Lopez). While Lavoe had successes, his life was riddled with drug addiction, depression and eventually AIDS. Needless to say, the movie is a carbon copy of every other artist and singer's rise and fall over the last thirty years. Whether it's Ray or Walk the Line or Before Night Falls or a dozen other pictures about famous or infamous artists, it gets tiring watching stories about people with success who have drug addictions or AIDS or some combination of the two. And, El Cantante isn't nearly as good as those other movies.
The acting in the movie is decent, though I wouldn't say either star is particularly impressive. I've never been a big fan of Lopez or her movies, and El Cantante is no different. Her range is limited and no matter who she's playing, it looks like she's playing Jennifer Lopez. Her attempts to immerse herself in her characters just don't click. Marc Anthony fares a little better, but he basically has to walk around and look high the whole time. His strength is in singing, not acting, and it shows.
The movie itself is bland. Directed by Leon Ichaso, El Cantante has very little to offer. Most of the time, the couple is fighting, partying or using drugs, and there is rarely a sincere moment in the entire film. Furthermore, Ichaso seems so obsessed with the negative parts of Lavoe's life that he fails to highlight what made this guy such a big star. As someone who has never been into music and who wasn't born until the 1980's, I don't know anything about Lavoe, and after watching this movie, I don't get what made him so popular. We never really get to see him in his element.
El Cantante is just like dozens of movies before it, only it lacks the power and delivery that some of those pictures managed.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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