3 December 2009 | Venus-25
It was going to be done eventually
The popularity of this classic story dictated that there would eventually be a fourth telenovela version and that each new generation of viewers will experience a new one as it comes out of post-production. Not having read the book nor seen the first two series on which it was based, I have no idea how far any version deviates from Caridad Bravo Adams' original novel, but this one is likely the one farthest afield.
However, the writers' choice to combine the basic story with the equally riveting YO COMPRO ESA MUJER isn't a bad one. Televisa's formula of a controlling parent for at least one of the lovers in a story always works and now we have two controlling parents portrayed by veteran actors who have excelled in such signature roles. Liliana Abud, who was head writer of YO COMPRO ESA MUJER, teams up again with Olga Ruilópez to incorporate this story into the love quadrangle of Juan del Diablo, his meeker brother (here cousin), and the two sisters and despite a few truly incredulous early situations this story fusion will work pretty well.
What must also be helping the publicity – and controversy – of this series is the return of Enrique Rocha and Eduardo Yáñez to the roles they portrayed in 1991. Only now, instead of Alejandro Aldama our hero is called Juan del Diablo. Here he is the son of the tragic Maria del Rosario (previously Blancaflor) Montes de Oca and the studly fisherman Juan de Dios; he promises the latter to get revenge on Rodrigo for his parents' tragedy. Yáñez' casting has been controversial because of his age, but he is an excellent actor who understands this character well
since he's the same guy, essentially, as in both previous novelas. He's also in excellent shape and isn't showing his age. The other – and bigger – controversy is the casting of Aracely Arámbula as both sisters after a 7-year acting hiatus. Her early episodes demonstrate that she has an obvious appetite for playing the bad girl, something she never previously had an opportunity to do. However, as the "nice" sister she lacks the depth of Edith Gonzáles and Leticia Calderón, the stars of the 1990s series. Her Regina so far is a porcelain doll dressed and made up to look like the young Leticia Calderón. She's in over her head with the rest of the excellent cast. Helena Rojo and Enrique Rocha are always first-rate and the supporting players were well-chosen. Unlike previously, the role of Juan's father is done by a different actor, the Fabio look-alike Osvaldo Rios (who was the father of Aracely Arámbula's character in 1997's ABRAZAME MUY FUERTE). He is a treat for the eyes during the prologue, dressed in the same style as Yáñez in the earlier series.
The production is beautiful and more elaborate than either of the 90s series; probably with day-for-night shooting, which makes for better picture clarity. The incidental music is excellent and incorporates music of the story's period and a performance of the cancan in the ship's ballroom by Madame Marlene's courtesans. The one production problem so far is the network's standard use of a current popular song as a title theme rather than something more in keeping with the incidental music and mood of the series. This hurts all of Televisa's novelas de epoca.
This series will undoubtedly have numerous nominations at the awards presentation next year despite its controversial elements and is likely to win for production and costume design. If they also provide awards for makeup, it's an out-of-the-park home run for its ability to shave years off some of the older actors. The very long hair on Eduardo Yáñez is the only egregious mistake so far, as it isn't compatible with his facial type. The makeup contrast on Arámbula's two sisters is obviously meant to recall Leticia Calderón and Ana Colchero from the two earlier series. One wonders whether that is meant to compensate for any anticipated deficiencies in her acting, but time will tell.
Give this series a chance and if I have cause to change my mind about it I will revise this review at the midpoint.