Cinema Signal:

A Psychological Thriller

. "Cronicas"
[Due to inconsistent ways that accents are rendered in browsers, they have been intentionally omitted.]

The suspense of this thriller centers around whether a man rescued from a mob for unintentially running his truck into a boy, killing him, and being incarcerated, is actually the serial killer who's been terrorizing the Ecuadorian countryside. Convinced that he is, Manolo Bonilla (John Leguizamo), the Miami based network tabloid news star reporter, and the man who rescued the poor traveling salesman Vinicio Cepeda (Damian Alcazar) from the dead boy's father revenge, foregoes other assignments in order to interview Cepeda in his cell in order to build a sensational story.

The mind game goes on while Bonilla's affair with Marisa, his producer and wife of the station manager back in Miami. Bonilla insists on balancing both. Mostly, he thinks he can gain a confession, either on camera or off, by clever manipulation in the guise of a supportive interchange and a few promises. But Cepeda is cleverer.

To prove that he knows things about the killer, he tells of an unrecovered body in a grave the police have disinterred, but missed. When Bonilla digs it up with the help of his cameraman Ivan (Jose Maria Yazpik), he's convinced of Cepeda's veracity and hooked on pursuing more details or a confession as the hottest story of his career.

By promising further details about the killer, known popularly as the "Monster," as someone he met and befriended, Cepeda negotiates for Bonilla to first put together a story about him as an unjustly accused man, virtuous and deserving of immediate release. But, would this be tantamount to returning a killer to the streets? Thinking he has the situation under control, Bonilla puts a tape together as an inducement for the confession. When it's aired-- just when Bonilla becomes even more convinced of Cepeda's involvement and tries to call it off--it has the intended effect and Cepeda is freed.

Leguizamo is pretty much as good as he gets, with at a more natural level of effort than in many a previous appearance. The behind-the-scenes romantic intrigue between the journalists seems like a means to provide the drama with a second level of tension and some interpersonal dynamics. It more or less works along with the thriller-mind game aspect that is this film's claim for attention, along with a unique look into the landscape and culture of a small Ecuadorian village.

                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  


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Damian Alcazar and John Leguizamo
A question of guilt, complicity or sensationalism

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