Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 05/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"PANTALEON Y LAS VISITADORS (Pantaleon and the "Visitors") is a completely satisfying cinematic conversion of the novel by Mario Vargas Llosa by the excellent Director Francisco Lombardi. The film is so successful in telling the tale of a traveling boat of prostitutes who are engaged by the Peruvian Army to provide 'outlets' for the soldiers quartered in the jungles of the Amazon (and have been abusing the local women) that what first appears to be a hilarious comedy becomes a rather profound statement about one man's ideals and his dedication to authority: the perfect Military Officer.
Captain Panteleon Pantoja (Salvador del Solar) is such an excellent organizer and dedicated officer that he is the one chosen by all of the top military officials to resolve the problem of addressing the sexual needs of the isolated Peruvian soldiers. He organizes, with the help of a brothel owner Chuchupe (Pilar Bardem), a carefully screened cadre of 'ladies of the night or visitadors', has 'uniforms' made, and arranges a military post where the 'Visitadors' are brought in by boat to service the eager soldiers. The project is an enormous success in every way. Pantaleon is obsessed with his project, much to the neglect of his wife Pocha (Monica Sanchez), and is eventually drawn into an indiscretion with one of the Visitadors called La Colombiana (the steamy Angie Cepeda). From there things begin to lose humor, the project is made public by the wily, disgusting radio talk show host El Sinchi (played to the hilt by Aristoteles Picho!), and ultimately comedy turns to tragedy. The real interest of this film is how despite the ultimate failure of the project, our by-the-book Panteleon manages to find a way to bounce back! A satisfying surprise ending to a fine 'message film'. The cinematography is superb, the jungles of the Amazon have not felt so steamy since "The African Queen" jungles, and the acting is intelligent, terse, and informed. There is much to celebrate in this excellent film, not the least of which are the many underlying motives that wear strange costumes but reveal universal truths. In Spanish with English subtitles."
Dedication put to the test
Jonathan L. Stewart | Thousand Oaks, CA United States | 08/27/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hilarious, sultry and clever, this film traces the adventures of the dedicated Peruvian Army Captain Pantoja, who is sent by his higher-ups to an assignment deep in the jungle. It seems the soldiers there have been raping local women, due to the well-accepted fact that the jungle boils a man's desire out of control. Pantoja's secret task is to form a government-sponsored brothel to keep the men's libidos in check. With characteristic thoroughness, and at first reluctantly, Pantoja analyzes every aspect of the job, exhaustively researching human sexuality with a scholar's detachment. This leads him to many insights into accomplishing his task in the most efficient manner possible. One example: the provision of pornographic material to a soldier waiting for his "visit" reduces his average "visit time" by 36 seconds, thus allowing a "visitor" to service six more soldiers during her shift, and reducing cost accordingly.
Unfortunately for Pantoja, the operation becomes too efficient and eventually draws the attention of a corrupt local radio personality. The dignity that Pantoja bestows upon his employees irks his superiors, and they too turn on him.
Llosa's original novel is brought to life delightfully, and the film is highly entertaining, especially for one familiar with Latin American culture."
Original and Well Executed
S. Sommerville | Raleigh, NC | 05/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Great Peruvian film here!
It is about a clean-cut, obediant captain in the Peruvian army who is assigned to go undercover as a businessman near a far-off army base where the soldiers have been causing havoc in the nearby city, raping women (since there are no women in the land where they are stationed. The captain (who is a loyal husband and soon-to-be father, spearheads a business in which prostitutes are brought down the Amazon River and are paid to provide "renderings" to the soldiers.
Alot of the drama in this dark comedy/drama comes from "La Colombiana," an extremely beautiful "visitadora" whom becomes a favorite of the soldiers and her boss.
This made my wife and I laugh out at several parts, though lovers of drama will more than likely appreciate this piece more than those who are just looking for a few laughs. The acting is impeccable, the script was witty, but not overdone, the film quality was great (much better than I had expected considering not many Peruvian films make it into the US market).
A Gem! S. Sommerville Sums it Up Just Right
Curtis Allan | Seattle, WA | 10/03/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One reviewer called this "Hogan's Hookers" but I think "original and well-executed" sums this delightful genre-busting film up to a tee. I was completely captivated for the first 45 minutes as the plot was laid out in a manner that despite its humorous nature was still completely plausible and engaging. I must admit to being a Peru-lover but even if you know nothing about the country the cinematography is thoroughly professional and cutting edge. Film buffs will note that the actress who plays the madame Chuchupe is Pilar Bardem, the mother of renowned Spanish actor Javier Bardem (Jamon Jamon, Live Flesh, When Night Falls, etc, etc etc). Angie Cepeda (La Colombiana) has since gone off to Hollywood, and Salvador del Solar (Pantaleon) continues to make films in Peru. Many other faces will be familiar to watchers of Univision, Venevision, or other Televisa networks.
As for a weakness, I felt that the film got just a bit too stagy and Hollywood at about the one hour point, when Olga and Pantaleon have their first serious encounter. Cepeda is put out as the showcase of the film, but frankly I felt her performance was perhaps the weakest link in the whole presentation. But even Hitchcock was known for terrible romance scenes, I don't think it flaws the film too much. That scene was soon forgotten after remarkable appearances from Aristóteles Picho as El Sinchi, the abominable shock jock radio voice of Iquitos. And anyone who has ever worked for a poor manager should appreciate the amazing dedication and work ethic of Pantaleon, and the affection his employees felt for him after he leaves. All in all, this is a real gem of a film. "
"This is a surrealist story. Vargas Llosa 's adaptation novel was taken to screen by Francisco Lombardi. An immaculate and extraordinarily capacitated captain's army is hired to install a brothel in the middle of the Amazon jungle, hiring prostitutes under the masked term of visitors to arouse still more the febrile patriotic feature of the trop. The recruiting process, the building of the local, the serious reports informing about the advances and the strategic planning is a ravishing tour de force comedy, plenty of ambiguities, and double sense jokes around the project. But Olga (La colombiana) stared by the exuberant and monumental Angie Cepeda will turn the plans, when a love affair spout among them. But the tragedy will remain behind the door just waiting to be invoked by dark facts the reason just can not explain. So this tragic comedy is one of the best examples of that so well known literary current named The magic marvelous ( Lo mágico maravilloso), an imported term designed by Alejo Carpentier a Cuban writer. Go for this picture if you want to laugh about the singularities and way of thinking of certain power statements. "