Review: ‘Manuela and Manuel’

"Manuela and Manuel" is a lot like cotton candy -- decked out in pink and other bright colors, sickly-sweet and designed to evaporate on contact.

“Manuela and Manuel” is a lot like cotton candy — decked out in pink and other bright colors, sickly-sweet and designed to evaporate on contact. Puerto Rican director-editor Raul (“12 Hours”) Marchand’s fourth feature is a nothing of a movie, a wannabe cute but arch, unfunny comic-melodramatic farce involving a transsexual stage performer trapped in a crazy marriage scenario. Frolic will pick up some partners at fest dances and find theatrical and vid partners able to link Spanish and gay auds.

In a funk ever since her ex-b.f. dumped her, Manuela (Humberto Busto) records her emotions on a video camera while holding down a song-and-dance gig at a San Juan cabaret club and fending off needy landlord Rosa (Luz Maria Rondon). When Manuela’s gal pal Coca (Elena Iguina) learns she’s pregnant, she enlists Manuela to pose as her fiance, Manuel, for her conservative parents. Manuela’s worst nightmare is thus realized: Her male side, which she shuns at every possible opportunity, must be uncapped in order to impress Rosa’s military-minded dad (Emmanuel Sunshine Logrono).

Manuela and Manuel

Puerto Rico

Production

A Caleidoscopio, Isla Films production. Produced by Frances Lausell. Executive producer, Sonia Fritz. Directed, edited by Raul Marchand. Screenplay, Jose Ignacio Valenzuela.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Sonnel Velazquez; music, Geronimo Mercado; production designer, Rafi Mercado; art director, Mailara Santana Pomales; costume designer, Angie Olmedo. Reviewed at AFI screening room, Los Angeles, Oct. 15, 2007. (In AFI Film Festival -- Latin Showcase.) Running time: 94 MIN.

With

Humberto Busto, Elena Iguina, Emmanuel Sunshine Logrono, Luz Maria Rondon, Ineabelle Colon, Marian Pabon, Marisol Calero, Israel Lugo, Johnny Lozada.
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