Review, ‘El rezador’: The scammer redeemed
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It is undeniable that Ibero-American film production continues in full development and that the South American industry is managing to break the Argentina-Brazil binomial. It is less and less strange that titles from Chile, Peru or Colombia are released. One of the countries that continues to make its way little by little is Ecuador, a country that, since 2016, has annually proposed an Oscar candidate without missing any appointment and that can boast of expanding its production every new year. Now ‘El rezador’, the second feature film by Tito Jara, arrives in Spanish cinemaswith which he delves into the problem of religious fanaticism.
After analyzing classism, corruption and racism in the Ecuadorian capital in ‘A tus back’, Jara bets on a genre production in which he once again delves into corruption, this time with a thriller that exposes the vulnerabilities of the Ecuadorian population through religious fanaticism and how this is used for the mere lucrative exercise of scammers.
The film begins with a small-time swindler who finds a family in which the daughter of the couple claims that she has visions of the Virgin Mary and that she is capable of granting miracles. Jara, initially, makes the plot of the film is reminiscent of the reflection on religious manipulation that Xavier Giannoli made in ‘The apparition’. However, the director, who also signs the script, chooses to go elsewhere, introducing a certain noir essence to the film, added with certain touches of terror when the girl manifests a more dangerous type of vision.
A risky bet of genre cinema in Ecuador
The bet on the genre is convincing and its interpreters defend their roles well. Now, Jara’s problem is that he doesn’t know what kind of film he wants ‘El rezador’ to be. Yes, it is appreciated that he is clear that it is a genre production but, In the end, it ends up being a potpourri of ideas that leads to a redeemed con man tale that feels somewhat contrived. and with the story of the girl from the visions completely wasted.
‘El rezador’ raises an interesting idea but the final result is hampered by a series of decisions that cause the film to seek to be too many things. However, Jara’s courage is appreciated for proposing something different, as well as showing that the Ecuadorian film industry would have no problem producing quality genre films that, moreover, offer an unusual closeness in this type of film.
The best: Its austere staging gives it a greater sense of realism.
Worst: The feeling that you want to be many things.