Review: ‘Black Bull’

A crudely made, vid-shot docu about an undisciplined, alcoholic bullfighter who beats the woman he lives with in front of her puzzled children, "Black Bull" purports to show what helmers call "passion of human conflict" but becomes fixated instead on sordid personal lives at expense of drama within the ring. Beyond limited fest exposure, cablers with voyeuristic streaks may take an interest; vid life is negligible.

A crudely made, vid-shot docu about an undisciplined, alcoholic bullfighter who beats the woman he lives with in front of her puzzled children, “Black Bull” purports to show what helmers call “passion of human conflict” but becomes fixated instead on sordid personal lives at expense of drama within the ring. Beyond limited fest exposure, cablers with voyeuristic streaks may take an interest; vid life is negligible.

Twenty-three-year-old Fernando Pacheco Colli, nicknamed both “El Suicide” and “El Negro,” travels the threadbare bullfighting circuit in Mayan communities of the Yucatan peninsula from his home in Valladolid. Though yearning to be taken seriously, he’s his own worst enemy, ignoring medical advice to take a break, entering the ring drunk, abusing pregnant g.f. Romelia and, inevitably, being gored by a bull. Even his mother sighs “you only come to give me headaches.” Aimless direction and subject’s self-destructiveness add up to a long, unpleasant sit, with pic’s nadir coming as Romelia, tough love backfiring, begs the cameraman to talk Fernando out of hitting her again. Tech credits are primitive at best, with finished pic winnowed down from some 45 hours of footage shot primarily on the fly.

Black Bull

Mexico

Production

An Acargo production. (International sales: Scalpel, Paris.) Produced by David R. Romay. Executive producer, Pedro G. Rubio Sanchez. Directed by Pedro Gonzalo-Rubio, Carlos Armella.

Crew

Camera (color, mini DV-to-35mm), Gonzalez-Rubio; editor, Armella; music, Morgan Szymanski. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Real to Reel), Sept. 15, 2005. (Also in San Sebastian Film Festival.) Toro negro. Spanish, Mayan dialogue. Running time: 87 MIN.

With

Fernando Pacheco Colli.
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