Pescador: Film Review

Generally amusing Equador-Colombia road movie turns an accidental drug heist into offbeat comedy.

Directed by Sebastian Cordero, the road movie turns a drug heist into offbeat comedy.

Take one South American drug heist, mix with a clownish fisherman convinced he’s of elevated birth, and shake with a pretty girl out for the money. This is Pescador, an enjoyable genre-bender that takes award-winning Equador filmmaker Sebastian Cordero somewhat alarmingly far from his roots: the exposé of an unscrupulous TV reporter Chronicles and the claustrophobic romantic thriller Rage. Unexpected but artful enough, this homey variation on the gangster/road movie, gently retouched with humor, should make inways into Latin American markets after its festival run.

Paunchy Blanquito (“Whitey”) is the film’s whole banana and is a taste that grows on you, even though actor Andrés Crespo seems to be playing much younger than he looks. He’s a pale-faced black sheep in the tiny fishing village where his mother raised him, flattering him that his father was a bigwig from the city. The village is a pretty small place and when his modest sex life refuses to blossom into romance, and he hungrily eyes Lorna, the abandoned Colombian girlfriend of a rich city slicker who has a vacation house on a hill.

One day a ship sinks and boxes of cocaine start washing up on the beach. Splitting the caché, the fishermen throw a merry beach party as they see their dreams coming true. After playing dumb to the police, they re-sell their stash to the original drug cartel for $5000 a brick and everyone wins.

Everyone except Blanquito, that is, who has a plan. With money in his pocket, Lorna (Maria Cecilia Sanchez) isn’t so far out of his league as she seemed at first glance. Teaming up with the pretty con artist, who claims she has useful contacts in nearby Guayaquil, he heads for the city to market ten bricks of pure coke and to meet his father for the first time.

Here the storydownsizes the narco plot, which is pretty obviously going to be disastrous for our hero, and foregrounds his equally problematic search for identity. Wanting to make a good impression on his father, who is now the provincial governor, he naively buys a suit and pays Lorna to accompany him in a chauffeur-driven convertible to a “surprise” encounter at Dad’s luxurious home. Their meeting is kept light and funny, moving the action into a more personal sphere and increasing the viewer’s respect for Blanquito, who inches forward on the dignity scale to earn his baptismal name of Carlos Adrian.

Crespo, a short filmmaker with little acting experience, takes some scenes to overcome his initial out-of-water look and silly veneer, settling more comfortably into the film’s second half.  Cordero energizes the atmosphere with interludes of flash-by editing and contemporary music, which draw the protag into the modern world. In other moments, when things are getting too serious, humor realigns the tone.

Venue: San Sebastian Film Festival (Latin Horizons)
Production companies: Cinekilotoa, Cocoa Productions present a Cinekilotoa, Contento Films production
Cast: Andres Crespo, Maria Cecilia Sanchez, Carlos Valencia, Marcelo Aguirre
Director: Sebastian Cordero
Screenwriter: Juan Fernando Andrade, Sebastian Cordero, based on Andrade’s novel
Executive producers: Ramiro Almeida, Jonathan Berg, Cesar Gomez
Producers: Sebastian Cordero, Lisandra I. Rivera, Alejandro Arango, Laura Gomez
Director of photography: Daniel Andrade
Production designer: Diana Trujillo
Music: Sergio Mejia
Editors: Sebastian Cordero, Santiago Oviedo
No rating, 97 minutes