Verse Comes to Worse

Centeno's henchmen perpetrate more unconvincing violence and urge Ricardo to leave the country. A local Gypsy's divulgence of the last person to see Garcia Lorca alive, a bullfighter named Gabino (Emilio Munoz), however, renews Ricardo's zeal. Next, Aguirre tries to obstruct the pursuit, arresting him on trumped-up charges and incarcerating him.

A few short frames later, Ricardo sets out for the final hurrah--meeting the bullfighter, the only remaining eyewitness. Centeno's henchmen shadow, intimidate and pummel him. Maria Eugenia and the taxi driver arrive in the nick of time, whisking him away from the scene. The film culminates with a confrontation among the parties at the bullfighting arena, where Ricardo lances at Centeno, Aguirre and the elusive truth while the bullfighter performs his ritualistic ballet. In the end, Ricardo is released from his anxiety; after he symbolically fires a gun (not at the suspected murderers but at the ceiling), he is freed to return to Puerto Rico, involve himself romantically with a woman and live his life with equanimity.

Ultimately, Ricardo's probe seems compelled by the film's Freudian sexual subtext--a vanquishing of the father--and not by the ostensible fictional and historical dramas on the film's surface. When Ricardo admits that in searching for the truth surrounding his idol's demise, he hopes to recoup a lost part of himself, little does he realize that the key he ultimately finds lies in a post-Oedipal awareness of sexual difference. Put that one in your fountain pen and see what it writes.

One of the writers of the screenplay, Neil Cohen, says he aimed to emulate Costa-Gavras's Z (1968) in its use of a politically charged setting that underscores a suspense thriller narrative. His film not only lacks the frisson of a Costa-Gavras work, it also sadly lacks the gusto of its subject. Garcia Lorca, Spain's great poet of this century, drew his inspiration from flamenco, the exotic idiom of the Andalusian Gypsies; the music's captivating romance helped shape the nation's aesthetic. Plaintive and impassioned, flamenco relies on the magical interpretive power of the duende (evil spirit), a parallel to the divine spirit of an artist. While the film's settings capture some of that essence, its story and principal actors fail to beguile.

The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca.
Directed by Marcos Zurinaga. Written by Marcos Zurinaga & Juan Antonio and Neil Cohen. Starring Andy Garcia, Esai Morales, Edward James Olmos, Giancarlo Giannini and Miguel Ferrer.

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