Review: ‘The Wicked One’

Nobody can stop Yoli from her dream of sultry diva stardom in "The Wicked One," a remarkably corny and old-fashioned potboiler from co-directors Lilian Rosado and Pedro Perez-Rosado, whose last was the slightly less acidic "Water With Salt."

Nobody can stop Yoli from her dream of sultry diva stardom in “The Wicked One,” a remarkably corny and old-fashioned potboiler from co-directors Lilian Rosado and Pedro Perez-Rosado, whose last was the slightly less acidic “Water With Salt.” Alternately spurred and discouraged by relatives, Yoli (Lena Burke) is inspired by the popular Cuban singer La Lupe to climb out of poverty in her little corner of Puerto Rico and sing her way to the top. Auds buzzed by sister-of-“Funny Girl” fare may await the vid release after its North American (Los Angeles Latino) and Euro (San Sebastian) fest premieres.

Once her fun-loving aunt Candela (Maria Isabel Diaz) gets the notion in the girl’s head that she can be the next La Lupe, Yoli has only one obstacle — her stubborn dad Lazaro (busy thesp Jorge Perugorria) — who under no conditions will allow his precious darling to pursue a career he deems suitable only for whores and crooks.

That about sums up the film’s dramatic essence, which ensures that Yoli and Lazaro become irresistible force and immovable object, leaving no doubt who will budge first. The Rosado filmmaking team fashion a Puerto Rican family drama on the most basic level, with little nuance and heavily influenced by the flat, slick style that typifies much current commercial Spain-based production.

Burke eventually takes over matters with a series of excessive song numbers, very much in the Celine Dion vein, that repetitively hit the same emotional buttons. Perugorria, on the other hand, does little more than glower and chomp down hard on an endless supply of fat cigars.

The Wicked One

Spain - Puerto Rico

Production

A Malvarrosa Media/Perez Rosado Producciones (Spain)/Untitled Films (Puerto Rico) co-production. (International sales: Malvarrosa Media, Valencia, Spain.) Produced by Pedro Pastor, John E. Viguie. Executive producers, Pastor, Pedro Perez-Rosado, Viguie, Marcos Zurinaga. Directed by Lilian Rosado, Pedro Perez-Rosado. Screenplay, Lilian Rosado.

Crew

Camera (Technicolor, EPC widescreen), PJ Lopez; editors, Rafa Montesinos, Pablo Van Damme; music, Rey-Nerio, Lena; production designer, Monica Monserrate; costume designer, Gladyris Silva; sound (Dolby Digital), Heriberto Rosas Rossy; associate producer, Jose Luis Forteza. Reviewed at Los Angeles Latino Film Festival, Sept. 17, 2008. (Also in San Sebastian Film Festival — Made in Spain.) Running time: 95 MIN.

With

Lena Burke, Jorge Perugorria, Maria Isabel Diaz, Sully Diaz, Nelly Jo Carmona, Dolores Pedro, Jorge Armando Rivera, Vladimir Cruz, Pedro Telemaco. (Spanish dialogue)

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