Of Love and Shadows (2000) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Tuna's comments in white:

Of Love and Shadows (1994) is two films in one.

First, it is a love story between Jennifer Connelly and Antonio Banderas.

Second, it is about the atrocities and abuses of power committed by the military leadership that declared a state of emergency in 1973 in Chile.

Connelly attempts to play one of the privileged class, who closed their eyes to the abuses around them. As the story begins, she is single, but engaged to an Army officer, and works for a fashion magazine. In walks Banderas. He was a psychologist before the takeover, and is now hoping for a job as a photographer. There is much more to him, however. His father was a strong anti-Fascist in Spain, and his priest brother, with his help, is collecting evidence of human rights violations. Although Banderas is not on any blacklist, he is working "in the shadows" to overthrow the military government.

Inevitably, Connelly and Banderas fall in love, and, just as inevitably, Connelly starts seeing the reality of torture and oppression. Mostly predictable. However, just when I was sure I had the entire story figured out, they shot Connelly. From there to the end, I was engaged in the story.

This could have been an interesting story. The political situation in Chile is interesting, and the Connelly character, and her new-found social conscience could have made for a great character-driven drama. There were also plenty of chances for action, and for suspense. There is a good film in the basic story, but they were several actors, and a script short of making it. The dialogue was awful; Connelly didn't have the skill to pull of the part; and only Banderas was equal to the role.


Connelly almost shows a breast near the beginning of the film while with her fiancee, then again shows most of a breast, including some nipple in a love scene with Banderas.

Antonio Banderas shows his butt.

There is a brief look at some mutilated naked corpses.

Scoop's notes in yellow:

These international co-productions are irritating. The Spanish speakers all have different accents. Connelly, who doesn't speak Spanish, came up with yet another accent. I don't know if anyone sounded like a Chilean. I think some of the minor roles were actually spoken in Spanish, then dubbed into English, making everything sound hollow and artificial. You know you're in trouble when you have an English-language movie in which Antonio Banderas is the anchor of the acting troupe. Jennifer Connelly's acting skills have traveled a great distance in the past years, allowing her to turn in credible, even award-winning, performances in A Beautiful Mind and Requiem for a Dream. Back in 1994, however, she was only at the beginning of that journey. But I never saw her look more beautiful.

Tuna hit all the highs and lows. I don't like historical trivializations in the first place, the whole school of  "oh, that darned Hitler, he really messed up my love life", so you can imagine I wasn't thrilled with a story that used fascist tortures as a backdrop for a silly Harlequin Romance. Add to that the problem that the direction in this film is primitive. There are useless shots, scenes seem to end at the wrong time, and the transitions between the scenes are clumsy, all of which makes a fairly straightforward plot seem confusing.

I did learn so much, though. I learned that the privileged classes can find human rights abuses to be, in their own way, almost as important as fashion.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1 format

Connelly and Banderas escape from the fascists in their convincing false identities (right).

Note the glasses and moustache, which caused the evil generalissimos to wave them through.

Both studied at the Bobby Valentine School of Disguise.

The Critics Vote

  • filmcritic.com 1/5

The People Vote ...

IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a D (both reviewers)

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