Thursday, July 22, 2010

Spoken Word

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Prodigal Son Returns to Roots in Dysfunctional Family Drama


                Cruz Montoya, Jr. (Kuno Becker) is a fixture on the West Coast slam poetry circuit, having cultivated a loyal following of devoted fans over the past three years. The bi-polar, former substance abuser has finally achieved a measure of emotional stability in San Francisco between teaching poetry and the love of a good woman (Persia White) who is also an artist.

                He only belatedly made something of himself after nearly frittering away his entire future selling and using drugs on the streets of Santa Fe. Now, the only hints of his profligate past are revealed by the gritty rhymes he spins about the life of crime which he’d miraculously escaped.

                Unfortunately, the young man’s resolve is about to be put to the test once he gets word that his father (Ruben Blades) is terminally-ill.For, he then instinctively rushes back to New Mexico to lend a helping hand over a Thanksgiving weekend visit that stretches out into an indefinite stay because of his dad’s deteriorating state of health.

                While in town, Cruz suddenly finds himself tempted again by everything from snorting cocaine to working for a mob boss (Miguel Sandoval) to sleeping with the first floozy (Deborah Chavez) who tries to seduce him. These flaws cut a sharp contrast to the straitlaced behavior of his happily-married brother Raymond (Antonio Elias), a chip off the block who had long-since settled down with a respectable gal (Monique Gabriela Cumen).

                Can the Prodigal Son earn the respect of his expiring father before the cancer-stricken codger kicks the bucket? That is the burning question posed by Spoken Word, a slight variation on an age-old, Biblical theme featuring a predominantly Latino ensemble. The picture was directed by Victor Nunez whose Ruby in Paradise won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival.

                This modern morality play is well-enough executed by a capable cast to recommend, especially for heathens unfamiliar with the original tale which ostensibly serves as the source of inspiration. Too bad the transparent plotline ultimately proves predictable.

How do you say déjà vu in Spanish?


Very Good (2.5 stars)


Running time: 116 Minutes

Distributor: Variance Films

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