16 January 2002 | Guy Grand
Smoldering looks do not make a competent film noir
Antonio Banderas was young then (mid-1980s) and he was just perfecting his smoldering STARE. He's groping breasts. He's jamming fingers in women's mouths. He's sticking other things in other places. He's the swaggering Latin star that set Madonna's and Melanie Griffith's hearts a thumpin'. But there's nothing in this movie that suggests his character is anything but surface (albeit, a constantly fornicating surface). There's hardly a character that remotely resembles a human being here. The three main characters that dance about undressed with plots and doublecrosses in their heads are there to just serve a storyline. They are not believable people.
The butch Carmen Maura is a puppy dog rich woman who hooks Banderas at a service station and never lets go. Victoria Abril as the pseudo-psychologist who helps Maura with her rape-filled nightmares is as convincing as CarrotTop acting as Napoleon. This is the kind of film where plot motivations seemingly come out of nowhere, yet the characters seem to find it perfectly natural to suddenly scheme to kill another person. There is no breath or logical unfolding to scenes, therefore, the whole piece feels contrived. What twists do occur can be seen for miles, for days, for light-years away.
The title is derived from Banderas' mute brother's (who's been silent since his mom died - why? - we're never told) desire to take a trip from South America (the film's locale) to the famed city in Louisiana. Why does the mute kid want to go there? Your guess is as good as any. It's another one of those cute "foreign" kind of things typical of international films that are there for atmosphere and not much sense. There's no sense in your visiting this Baton Rouge anytime soon. My rating * out of ****.