The awesome debut of the 2009 Golden Bear Winner !!!
Walther R. Guerrero | Dorcester, MA | 02/16/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Madeinusa is the name of the protagonist of the film (Magaly Solier), a girl who lives in the middle of nowhere in Perú. Manayaycuna is her town, and poverty, the simple life of the poor, the alcoholic father, the mean sister and her animals is pretty much all what she knows.
Easter is coming and the town will celebrate it on their own way. It is not Easter but "Holy Time" over there, everyone is excited and so is Madeinusa; everyone but the young guy from Lima that got stuck there on his way to a mining camp, and has no option but to spend a few days in Manayaycuna ... with Madeinusa. Just during the time when Christ is dead ... hence, he cannot see us!
Madeinusa pictures a tale where the Christian religion got blended with- and swallowed by- andean traditions, creating their own myths and traditions like the "Holy Time" (which indeed, is just a creation of the Director Claudia Llosa, for such thing as Holy Time doesn't actually exist in the Peruvian Andes). Madeinusa will then, take you for a crazy travel for the gorgeous Peruvian Andes, through the eyes of a Lima photographer, meeting an awesome village girl inside a gorgeous but perhaps insane town, with a bunch of well pictured characters that are not that easy to understand.
But don't worry. Madeinusa is NOT a silly Andean version of Cinderella ... not at all. Madeinusa is a masterpiece of art, displaying the magic of the Peruvian Andes, the beautiness of simple people and the evil spirit of human being. Don't expect a romantic tale, don't expect a Perú's documentary. Just seat and enjoy the debut of the current Golden Bear holder and the performance of an actress, who a couple of months before the film, was actually a village girl, discovered by the Director while she was selling potatoes and other food stuff at her town ... a place perhaps not so different to Manayaycuna."
A surprising effort
George W. Lynn | 03/07/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A fairly macabre story that would be something more at home on the Twilight Zone or in a painting by Brueghel. A Spanish stranger from Lima wanders into an Indian village during the Holy Time, the period of time between Good Friday and Easter, when by village tradition God is dead and cannot see the sins on the villagers. They don't want him there, he's a foreigner to them, and they don't want him to witness their actions during this special time. The local mayor locks him up to protect him, but he breaks out and wanders into a world he didn't know existed and can't begin to understand, even if parts of it look familiar. Madeinusa is the name of the young woman on the cover, chosen by her father the mayor to play the role of Mary during Holy Time. She dreams of escape into the modern world of Lima, away from her brutal father who has been waiting for Holy Time for his own perverted reasons. It's a fascinating decent into Hell and takes a number of interesting twists and turns. The actors are all strong in their roles and make film all too real. The cinematography is particluarly beautiful with the Andes in the background. Well worth seeing and a very unique effort."
C. Donovan | rhode island | 10/04/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film is based in the fictional indigenous village of Manayaycuna ("the town no-one can enter" in Quechua) in the Andes Mountains. Here, the indigenous people have merged their traditional beliefs with the Catholicism brought to them by the conquistadors, forming a very loose interpretation on what happens between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. In this corrupt town, God dies on Good Friday and is born again on Easter, and between those days there is no sin because 'God is dead.'
The story is centered around a "naïve" 14-year-old girl by the name of Madeinusa (pronounced Ma-den-OO-za) and a migrant worker from Lima who gets stranded in the town for the weekend. He is not welcome here on these Holy Days, and for good reason. God may not see sin, but this town certainly feels as though the outsiders can spoil their fun. A lot of reviews paint this as a love story of sorts, with Madeinusa falling for the 'gringo,' yet in my mind it is a story of a girl, who is fascinated with the stranger because he is different and she is searching for a way out. We can only guess what her life is life the rest of the year outside the Holy Days.
Throw in a father with incestuous plans and a jealous sister and you get a strange tale that will bring you to a surprising conclusion. I found this to be an interesting tale, yet feel it is important not to take away the idea that anything is inherently wrong with the cultural beliefs of the indigenous people of Peru, even if they are taken together with Catholicism. Roman Catholicism is the official religion of Peru and plays a major role in Peruvian culture, but in many areas it is intricately mixed with facets of Inca beliefs, annual celebrations of village patron saints' days often coincide with preconquest harvest observances that really gives communities their own character."
Rufus Quail | 12/14/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Madeinusa is a 14-year-old girl who lives with her father and sister in a stone dwelling with a dirt floor. It's more substantial than a hut but too primitive to be called a house. There is no electricity. The kitchen faucet emits just a trickle of water.
The family live in a remote village in the mountains of Peru. The nearest telephone is miles away. "Made" and her sister take turns spreading rat poison around the perimeter of the dwelling. Dead rats bring good luck. In just a few hours Made's father will have one of his fondest wishes realized. He'll have sex with his daughter. Made sings sad songs.
The movie opens with the start of the Easter festival. The village's dozen or so young virgins, lavishly costumed, go on parade. Made is selected as the year's most beautiful. We learn that Made's dad is the town's mayor, a man highly esteemed in the region. The selection of his daughter makes his upcoming conquest all the more exciting!
This festival has a twist. The villagers have made it a tradition that God is dead from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. He can't see their transgressions. Sin does not exist. A man can have sex with his daughter and it won't matter. Made has known for a long time that this day would come. Incest is a natural part of life, something the village daughters stoically accept. Anyone suggesting there's something wrong with the arrangement might be stoned by these primitives. It's a fate that could be in store for any outsider who stumbles upon the warped festival.
The film takes a detached view of the bizarre happenings. The wild party, called Holy Time, includes many beautifully-photographed scenes of pageantry and debauchery (although there are no graphic depictions of sex). There's no attempt to manipulate the viewer's emotions, no effort to demonize or glorify any character.
Made has the honor of kicking off Holy Time. In a solemn ceremony, the crucified Jesus is taken down from his perch and blindfolded. This Jesus is a comical mannequin, with moveable arms and eyes. Made kisses him reverently on the mouth.
Although the villagers are free to do as they please, no one seems to have much fun. They act as if the festival is a religious observance in which they must dutifully participate. The merriment is robotic, not joyful.
The movie is packed with astonishing imagery. The musical score is hauntingly beautiful. Made's songs are incredibly touching. It's one of the most moving and amazing movies I have seen. It's Claudia Llosa's first film. Topping it will be a formidable challenge.