The spirit is will­ing

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews -

This Peru­vian ghost story brings washes of wel­come mar­itime sun­light to a some­what grey do­mes­tic sum­mer. Un­der­tow is not al­ways suc­cess­ful – in­deed, it is oc­ca­sion­ally a tad du­bi­ous – but it has a rough-hewn in­tegrity.

Miguel (Cris­tian Mer­cado) is a fish­er­man in a re­mote, re­li­gious com­mu­nity. He is mar­ried and look­ing for­ward to the birth of his first child. But Miguel has a se­cret. He has, for quite some time, been car­ry­ing on an af­fair with San­ti­ago (Manolo Car­dona), a good-look­ing painter. When San­ti­ago drowns, his spirit re­turns to hang mourn­fully around his lover.

The im­age of the two men, one in­vis­i­ble to all oth­ers, walk­ing through the town is a pow­er­ful one. For the first time, Miguel and San­ti­ago en­joy a class of sex­ual free­dom rare in such con­ser­va­tive com­mu­ni­ties.

The idea is ef­fec­tive, though it can­not al­to­gether ob­scure the film’s de­fi­cien­cies. The sound­track is a lit­tle too keen on the sen­ti­men­tal surge. The cycli­cal struc­ture is far too neat. And it proves hard to sym­pa­thise with a pro­tag­o­nist who seems so un­trou­bled by his own adul­tery.

A per­sua­sive fa­ble, nonethe­less.

Be­tween two worlds: Manolo Car­dona and Crisian Mer­cado

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