Director: Franco Lolli. France-Columbia. 2014. 86mins
The rift between rich and poor – a well used movie theme – gets dusted off and re-packaged in Franco Lolli’s Gente de Bien, set against a Latin American backdrop and detailing (in well sustained dramatic style to be sure) familiar issues.
What gives the film its edge, however, is the charming and often moving central performance by Bryan Santamaria.
Too downbeat and dour to secure much in the way of theatrical exposure outside its home territories, the film could have the social conscience to help into further festival screenings, though in truth it offers no real insight or originality as it treads it familiar route.
That isn’t to say that the film isn’t thoughtfully constructed and nicely performed, because it is. Simply that it lacks a real dramatic edge to set it apart.
At the heart of the film is 10 year-old Eric (Bryan Santamaria), who is sent to live with his poor handyman father (Carlos Fernando Perez) in Bogota. When one his wealthier and kindlier clients Maria Isabel (Alejandra Borrero), takes pity on them, she invites them to spend Christmas at her family’s mart country villa. But soon that old gap (and Eric wears a ‘Gap’ sweatshirt just to accentuate things) between rich and poor starts to play its part in proceedings.
What gives the film its edge, however, is the charming and often moving central performance by Bryan Santamaria as a youngster caught up in the division between poor and rich while also quite simply trying to be a child. A scene where he rides into town on horseback (waving to those around and filmed to a Latin version of My Way) is enchanting and is a well-shot dip into magical realism that hints that director Franco Lolli is a talent to watch.
Production companies: Geko Films, Evidencia Films
International sales: Versatile, www.versatilefilms.com
Producer: Gregoire Debailly
Screenplay: Franco Lolli, Catherine Paillé
Cinematography: Oscar Duran
Editors: Nicolas Desmaison, Julie Duclaux
Main cast: Brayan Santamaria, Carlos Fernando Perez, Alejandra Borrero