The Great Fallacy: Film Review

Despite its thoughtful and impassioned arguments, this agitprop-style documentary is too hysterical to be taken seriously.

Paco Vazquez' documentary presents a dire portrait of the troubled political, economic and social conditions of Puerto Rico.

Paco Vazquez’ documentary about the currently troubled political, economic and sociological conditions in Puerto Rico begins with a dizzying array of statistics, such as that no less than 46 percent of its residents are at the poverty level and receiving federal assistance.

And The Great Fallacy, subtitled The Milking of the Puerto Rican Colony, doesn’t let up from there, introducing so many dire facts and figures that it feels more like an apocalyptic, illustrated lecture than a cohesive film. While the intentions of the filmmaker -- who left Puerto Rico in 2001 to move to Texas -- are surely honorable, his passionate arguments are undercut by his scattershot approach and strident agitprop style.

Using an endless array of talking heads culled from politics and academia, the film vociferously makes a case that Puerto Rico’s government is rife with corruption and promotes policies benefiting big business and the rich rather the majority of its citizens. According to the film, the commonwealth’s social fabric has been frayed beyond repair, with everything from massive unemployment to deadly cancer experiments on unwitting participants contributing to the crisis. The more lofty ideas are illustrated by onscreen quotes from historical figures ranging from Benito Mussolini to Simon Bolivar.

The film’s leftist, anti-big business philosophy is further emphasized by attacks on such companies as Monsanto and McDonald’s. It ultimately emerges as a manifesto of sorts, encouraging Puerto Rican citizens, and presumably the rest of us as well, to boycott such institutions. We’re also advised to avoid processed foods, exercise regularly and watch less television.

By the time this breathless film subtitled The Milking of the Puerto Rican Colony has reached its conclusion, the viewer is left not so much inspired to take action but simply overwhelmed.

Opens Nov. 15 (Jibaro Media Group)

Director/director of photography: Paco Vazquez

Executive producers: Paco Vazquez, Felo DeBoriken, Dr. Lillibeth Ratcliffe

Editors: Paco Vazquez, Felo DeBoriken

Composers: Felo DeBoriken, El Piero, Jerry Ferrao

Narrators: Stephen Alvarez, Jerry Ferrao

Not rated, 86 min.