The Bad Intentions review

:. Director: Rosario García-Montero
:. Starring: Fatima Buntinx, Katerina D'Onofrio
:. Running Time: 1:47
:. Year: 2011
:. Country: Peru, Argentina


While Peruvian movies usually explore despair and poverty, whether it's in a traditional rural or urban environment, The Bad Intentions is in contrast set in the Peruvian upper-class, in the Lima suburbs. The other major difference is that the film takes place in the 80's rather than in the present, giving the opportunity to writer/director Rosario García-Montero to revisit her childhood and add a political dimension to her work - during that time, Peru was at war with communist terrorists.

A somewhat biographical work, The Bad Intentions is centered around Cayetana (the impressive Fatima Buntinx), a young girl who grows up surrounded by nannies and maids while her mother and step-father are working abroad. To survive her solitude, she built a world of imaginary friends who happen to be heroes of Peruvian history. Cayetana surely lacks social skills, her only friend being her cousin, and she has developed a pretty dark and twisted personality that would fit well in Tim Burton's universe. She also waits every Saturday in front of her house for her father to come pick her up, but the man rarely shows up, preferring a life of Rock 'N' Roll and easy girls. When Cayetana's mother comes back and tells her she is going to have a baby, the little girl convinces herself that she will die when the baby will get born, increasing even more her resentment for a mom she thinks abandoned her.

The Bad Intentions is an absorbing and darkly poetic work, which advances slowly but delivers beauty out of its own anguish. What makes it even more enticing is the fact that it features different levels, from the child's character study, to the social environment and the political context.

Cavetana is a pretty convincing character, despite her loneliness, the girl also being described as a strong and sometime cruel individual - see the scene with the baby, which will shock most women in the audience. To her credit the filmmaker doesn't try to get pity out of us, especially as we don't know how much she put of herself in that character. What she also shows us is that money can't buy a kid's happiness, the presence of parents being the most important factor. The movie is actually entirely set in a wealthy microcosm - Peruvians of Spanish decent rather than indigenous - Ms. García-Montero subtlety letting poverty peak, on the boundaries of Cavetana's world. As for the historical-political background, this allows us to discover events most of us were not familiar with and keep The Bad Intentions in the tradition of Latin American cinema, which mission is to include social and political commentary.

All of this might make you think that this is a pretty heavy work but what probably makes it so successful is the fact that the picture has actually a strong comedic tone, which you will enjoy if you're a fan of dark and offbeat humor. The poetic and intimate direction - think Jim Jarmush - and Fatima Buntinx's strong performance hold the themes and narrative tight, making The Bad Intentions another strong representative of an emerging Peruvian cinema.

  Fred Thom

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