Dir: Miguel Pereira. Arg-Sp. 2006. 102mins.
An allegory about the rape of Latin America throughforeign intrusion, Destiny has justthe kind of political message that will appeal to liberal festival and arthouse audiences. The addition of spectacular landscapesand generous splashes of local colour should help usher it to events around theworld.
But while it is easy toidentify with the screenplay' admirable intentions, sales may be moredifficult, due to the inherent weakness of the characters and a plot that only existsas a vehicle for the metaphors it is supposed to convey.
Pedro (Tristan Ulloa), a small time crook pretending to be a priest,travels from Spain to a God-forsaken area on the border between Argentina andBolivia to take possession of a drugs shipment.
The deal turns sour and innocentbystanders are killed. One is a potter (Gordillo) of renown, returning to his native village - but before heexpires he mentions a treasure hidden near his remote hovel, enough to sendPedro in pursuit.
Reaching the rural community,himself now near dead, Pedro is nursed back to health by local women who mistakehim for clergy sent to provide their spiritual guidance.
The village itself is afaithful representation of primitive South American innocence about to betrampled by so-called civilisation. Its main source of income comes frompottery, made from clay which itself consists of the hearts and souls of previousgenerations.
But the area's seclusion is beingshattered by the building of a new road, demolishing the graves of ancestorsand connecting the village to the rest of the country. The project has splitthe community: some follow the innkeeper and his greedy wife, who are in leaguewith the road contractors, others would rather remainfaithful to old ways.
Pedro, in his disguise as apadre, would seem the ideal mediator - but then he has one eye on the riches ofthe local church and the other on the police, who are still in pursuit.
Adapted from Hector Tizon's novel The ManWho Came To The Village, Destiny's script is overwhelmed by its message to the detriment ofcharacterisation, who is consistently sketchy. The fake priest, who pretends onseveral occasions times to have a conscience and assume a small degree ofcommitment to others, might have generated some interesting drama, but neither thewriting nor Tristan Ulloa's performance aresufficiently sustained to convince.
The script's politicalimplications are also hammered home through a pre-credit sequence set in the16th century, showing Spanish conquistadors, accompanied by church delegates, marchinginto Latin America against limited native resistance.
What follows is evidentafter such an obvious hint: the fake priest, disrespect for and incomprehensionof nature, age-old traditions swept away and the new world blowing the old intosmithereens. These and much more are stringed together in a succession ofevents that wear their metaphorical heart too earnestly on their sleeves.
Instead Destiny's best aspects are the wild, breathtaking Andes scenery,introduced early on, and the staging of several events from village life, thrownin towards the end for good measure to remind the audience about the world thatis about to be lost.
Edna Fernandez Chajud