El Cantante (R)

Drama 106 August 3, 2007
By Robert Wilonsky
Director Leon Ichaso, already responsible for mucking up a made-for-TV Jimi Hendrix biopic, is back at it with this turgid film about salsa star Hector Lavoe (Marc Anthony), which doesn’t go behind the music as much as beneath it. Focusing almost solely on Lavoe’s addictions (drugs and women, ho and hum), El Cantante is a garish, dispiriting mountain of biopic clichés snorted through the lens of a fidgety camera that never pauses long enough for us to know the man responsible for making the Nuyorican sound a mainstream American commodity in the 1970s and early ’80s. Every so often, a character appears to tell us that Lavoe’s sound “will change everything,” but nothing happens after that; it’s the same ol’ self-pity party as Lavoe, whose papa doesn’t approve of his move from Puerto Rico to America, blames everyone but himself for his woes, despite his seemingly instant fame. Worse, Anthony’s real-life wife, Jennifer Lopez, tries to make the film about her; miscast as Lavoe’s missus, Puchi, Lopez hides behind aging makeup that makes her look like Bebe Neuwirth as she talks to a documentary crew about a husband we don’t really see. Hector is “corny,” she says, but the movie never proves it. Interesting we’d settle for, but we don’t get even that.
Leon Ichaso Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, John Ortiz, Manny Perez Leon Ichaso Julio Caro, Simon Fields, Jennifer Lopez, David Maldonado Picturehouse


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