In his sophomore outing "Yellow," Alfredo de Villa rechannels "Flashdance" as a Puerto Rican dancer tries to make it in Gotham. Co-written, produced and thesped by Roselyn Sanchez, relentlessly heroic pic is less vanity project than manifesto, showcasing its va-va-voom star so forcefully that one is swept along by her belief in herself.
In his sophomore outing “Yellow,” Alfredo de Villa (“Washington Heights”) rechannels “Flashdance” as a Puerto Rican dancer tries to make it in Gotham. Co-written, produced and thesped by Roselyn Sanchez, relentlessly heroic pic is less vanity project than manifesto, showcasing its va-va-voom star so forcefully that one is swept along by her belief in herself, as foregone conclusions are pumped up with dramatic suspense. Blatantly erotic dance numbers turn up the heat in this crowd-rousing yarn of a long-legged dancer who could. Sexy Sanchez could embody a crossover incentive for this shamelessly upbeat tale.
Flashbacks to a golden balletic childhood, which show a little girl named Amaryllis daintily auditioning as her premier danseur daddy beams with pride, set the stage for a big career come-down in present-day San Juan.
Amaryllis (Sanchez) now delivers pizzas while her handsome, good-for-nothing b.f. (Manny Perez) lounges in front of the TV-set swigging beer with her mother (Erika Michaels). Meanwhile, her father (Jaime Tirelli), now wheelchair-bound, grows increasingly despondent. Her dad’s eventual suicide frees Amaryllis to pursue her art in New York City, scene of her father’s former dance triumphs.
From the get-go, the talents of Sanchez’s Amaryllis register as improbably vast — trying out for a job as a striptease artist, with no rehearsal or previous experience, she executes a high-kicking slithery pole dance that leaves the other strippers applauding madly.
She also demonstrates a skill for instantly making friends with all who cross her path. Thus the sleazy strip joint’s owner proves purely paternalistic, and all the other girls support her unequivocally. Even her best customer (D.B. Sweeney), initially somewhat sinister, turns out to be a nice Park Avenue doctor newly separated from his wife.
Amaryllis becomes a mother-hen figure for an unlikely extended family, including her eccentric neighbor, an addled professor/poet (Bill Duke).
Helmer de Villa maintains a consistently light touch with cliche. Despite the simplistic plot mechanics of this enjoyably predictable self-empowerment saga, de Villa’s appreciation of character and sense of ensemble playing add welcome nuances to the familiar twists and turns.
Sweeney delivers a self-effacing perf, while Duke’s frayed-cuffed, bow-tied academic rambles from Old World courtliness to frightening psychosis.
But Sanchez owns the movie, flexing her thesping muscles with the confidence, determination and presence she has honed over almost a decade of playing the sexy Latina in TV cop shows and low-budget actioners (“Rush Hour II” repping the sole high-budget exception). And it helps that she can really dance.
De Villa keeps the story moving briskly, special effects limited to occasional playful split-screens, a conceit brightened by lenser Claudio Chea’s colorful palette.