Dir/scr: Carlos Bolado. Mex-Braz. 2006. 114mins.
Former editor Carlos Bolado- best known for his work on Alfonso Arau's Like Water for Chocolate - makes an overlyambitious piece with Solo Dios Sabe which, premiered inthe world dramatic competition at Sundance.
Despite a promising start, itultimately proves too overextended for its own good, despite a watchable performance from lead Alice Braga,with some wildly uneven passages.
The movie is structured in threedistinct movements, and only the first, an impudent, sexy road movie in the mannerof Y Tu Mama Tambien, has a clean dramatic shape and structure.
The movie's best commercial prospectsare clearly in Latin America and Spanish and Portuguese-speaking European territories.Limited and specialised US distribution is possible, though any partner wouldlikely insist on cutting the Sundance version that ran to just under two hours.
Dolores (Braga),a Brazilian literature professor based in San Diego, is stranded in Mexico afterher passport is stolen. She seeks help from Damian (Luna), a journalist, and togetherthey head to Mexico City for new documentation.
In the open spaces and shiftingdesert landscapes, the two are drawn together, emotionally and physically boundby their circumstances, as Dolores succumbs to Damian's romantic invitation.
But when they reach Mexico City,their idyll is complicated by Dolores' pregnancy - she has been having a work affairwith married department chairman - and the news that her grandmother has died unexpectedly.
The second and third acts explorethe intermittent nature of the couple's relationship after Dolores finds out thatDamian stole her passport, as well as Dolores' strained relationship with her motherin Brazil.
There she discovers a buriedfamily secret involving a notorious mystic and gains the courage to emotionallycope with an undisclosed personal trauma.
While the action shifts fluidlyfrom southern California to Mexico and finally Brazil, the tone of the middle andthird parts is less secure, as if constantly at odds with each other. It resultsin a work that too undisciplined to fully take a satisfying shape.
Bolado has a painter's eye, and the sensual imagery he deliversis highly arresting. Curiously enough, he is best in the open, improvised movementsof the first act, but after that the script feels so packed with incident and narrativethat it becomes increasingly episodic and poorly structured.
In Alice Braga the film does at least have something of an equaliser,as her performance - by turns , funny, sexy, sad, wounded, vulnerable and incandescent- smoothes over the rough sections. It is a commanding presence, a sexually independentwoman whose deepening spiritual evolution shapes the story.
But despite his appealing good-looks,Diego Luna (Y TuTambien) is too young and callow and lacks the gravitasthe role demands, creating an imbalance between the two leads' that the film neverquite overcomes.
Dezenove Son E Imagens
De Cuernos Al Abismo Films
Instituto Mexicano De Cinematografia
Jose Maria Yazpik