Emerson (Fernando Solorzano), an ex-cop-turned-private dick, agrees, for no apparent reason, to aid a prizefighter who, for even less apparent reason, has been accused of murdering a prostitute (Flora Martinez) in "Breath of Life," a soporific Colombian neo-noir that plays like a slightly artier version of the low-rent Central and South American-made actioners that populate Spanish-language television. Pic should have little life of its own outside of filling obligatory "international" slots at minor festivals.

Emerson (Fernando Solorzano), an ex-cop-turned-private dick, agrees, for no apparent reason, to aid a prizefighter who, for even less apparent reason, has been accused of murdering a prostitute (Flora Martinez) in “Breath of Life,” a soporific Colombian neo-noir that plays like a slightly artier version of the low-rent Central and South American-made actioners that populate Spanish-language television. Pic should have little life of its own outside of filling obligatory “international” slots at minor festivals.

A roundelay of sorts (and with an unintentionally funny, Sam Spade-style voiceover narration), pic invokes bits of “Rashomon” and “Touch of Evil” as Emerson unravels a familiar web of corruption leading from the boxer to a blind beggar to a crooked politician. The investigation becomes more a search for the true identity of the murdered girl (who was known by a variety of aliases) than for her killer. Was she, possibly, a part of Emerson’s own life at some prior juncture? Plot-heavy, ham-fistedly acted pic offers so little detail or insight about its characters that by the time the answer to that question is revealed, it is impossible to fathom how it is of any consequence.

Breath of Life

Colombia

Production

An EGM Producciones/Direccion de Cinematografia del Ministerio de Cultura de Colombia/Centro Nacional de Cinematografia/Fonds Sud, France production. Executive producer, Efrain Gamba Martinez. Co-producer, Mark Irmer. Directed by Luis Ospina. Screenplay, Luis Ospina, Sebastian Ospina.

Crew

Camera (color/b&w), Rodrigo Lalinde; editors, Elsa Vasquez, Luis Ospina; music, German Arrieta, Gonzalo De Sagarminaga; art director, Monica Marulanda; costume designer, Consuelo Sierra. Reviewed at AFI Film Festival (Latin Cinema Series), L.A., Oct. 23, 2000. Original title: Soplo de Vida. Running time: 109 min.

With

Fernando Solorzano, Flora Martinez, Robinson Diaz, Constanza Duque, Cesar Mora, Alvaro Ruiz, Alvaro Rodriguez, Juan Pablo Franco, Edgardo Roman.
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