The Austin Chronicle


Rated PG, 112 min. Directed by Santiago Parra. Starring Ivana Miño, Gemma Guilemany, Pedro Armendáriz Jr., Eric del Castillo, Sandra Estil.

REVIEWED By Josh Rosenblatt, Fri., Dec. 15, 2006

If you’re possessed of that particular religious temperament that leaves one weeping openly at the news that Jesus’ likeness has been spotted in an open-faced sandwich in Tupelo, Miss., or if you’re willing to travel hundreds of miles on your knees to touch the hem of some sage’s garment, then nothing anyone tells you about Guadalupe will likely be heard above the din of angels singing. On the contrary, this movie will probably make your spirit soar, regardless of the stubborn protests of a thousand critics. For the rest of us, however, Guadalupe is amateur hour dressed up in ecclesiastical purple: a poorly drawn, poorly directed, and poorly acted attempt at a film of weight and religious significance. This profoundly mawkish story of redemption and religious awakening flashes back and forth in time between 16th-century Mexico – a time, legend says, when a vision of the Virgin Mary appeared before a peasant in the desert and brought a new identity to the fledgling nation – and modern-day Mexico, where two archeologists have come from abroad looking for proof of the legend and end up instead finding a path to their own much-longed-for spiritual contentment. At the heart of the story is the quest for a theological truth that will lead to psychological equanimity, but the filmmakers are too caught up in their own religious sentiments and educational aims to pay much mind to character or plot development, and the movie is already slipping off the rails by the end of the first scene. Aiming to be a religious mystery along the lines of The Da Vinci Code or The Name of the Rose, Guadalupe settles instead for being pure soap opera, drenching itself in sweeping violins, clichéd domestic dramas, and episodes of religious reverie that would embarrass any believer possessed with even a modicum of modesty. Heaven help the religious movie whose audience can’t help laughing whenever the mother of God appears hovering onscreen in all her gauzy glory.

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