Review: ‘Unicorn: The Garden of Fruits’

A celluloid oddity bathed in homoerotic overtones, "Unicorn: The Garden of Fruits," the first Argentine-Indian co-production, unspools in an artsy netherworld between tedium and eye-popping chutzpah. This second installment in scripter-helmer's Pablo Cesar's self-styled "Triumph" trilogy (based on ancient texts) is set to open theatrically in Argentina before year's end, and could prove of outre interest to certain fests. Via a circular structure linked by a sloshed poet, pic incorporates human sacrifice, much symbolic tweaking of male nipples and other ritualistic behavior set in mystical vistas inhabited by hairless young Indian youths in scanty attire. As taxing as it is exotic, pic really hits its stride when a traveler on camel-back gets mired in a variation on "Groundhog Day" in the desert.

Drafting local non-pros in Rajasthan state, northwest India, and dubbing them into Spanish yields an off-kilter metaphysical mood that suits the ancient source texts. Carlos Essmann’s supple camera makes the most of the striking ancient settings, and a pleasant score complements the action.

Pic preaches that all the books of all religions must burn to accomplish the complete and permanent transformation of man. If brightly painted young men writhing and giggling on the sandy plain of hell expedite the process, so be it.

Unicorn: The Garden of Fruits

Argentine - Indian

Production

A Magno Films (Argentina)/Murali Nair Prods. (India) production, with support of National Film Institute of Argentina. (International sales: Magno Films, Buenos Aires.) Produced by Pablo Cesar, Murali Nair. Directed, written by Pablo Cesar.

Crew

Camera (color), Carlos Essmann; editors, Cesar, Liliana Nadal, Valeria Ambrosio; music, Hector Magni; art direction/costume design, Ambrosio; sound (Ultra-Stereo), Mario Calabrese; assistant director, Sergio Cingolani. Reviewed at Amiens Film Festival, France, Nov. 13, 1996. Running time: 92 MIN. (Spanish dialogue)

With

Yasef Calderon, Romina Barbara, Hukum Singh, Dinesh Dinaram, Chacha Shirgham, Abha Raj Vyas.
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