A fisherman who finds himself out of his depth after getting involved in the drug trade is the titular protag of “Pescador,” an engaging but slight comedy that reps a frankly uninteresting new direction for helmer Sebastian Cordero following his well-received and altogether richer debut, “Rabia.” Though it strikes the right balance of empathy and comedy, pic is efficient at best, and most notable for Andres Crespo’s lead perf as a starry-eyed but perpetually disappointed dreamer. Propelled partly by helmer’s rep, “Pescador” looks likely to trawl fest and Latin American waters.Blanquito (played by Crespo), whose name means “Whitey,” lives with his mother in a fishing village on Ecuador’s northern coast. When a shipment of cocaine is washed ashore, he glimpses the chance for a new future and teams up with Lorna (Maria Cecilia Sanchez), the former g.f. of local businessman Elias (Marcelo Aguirre), in the hope that she can help him sell the merchandise in the city. The two head off to Guayaquil, which Andres has another reason for visiting: He believes he’s the son of the provincial governor, a storyline that considerably deepens interest in his character and generates the pic’s single most beautifully surreal scene. Andres swaps his T-shirt for an ill-fitting white suit and looks on impassively as the disappointments mount up, starting with Lorna’s disappearance from their hotel room with the stash. Fluidly shot and edited, “Pescador” deftly ushers the viewer through a series of none-too-original scenarios without pausing much for thought. The script keeps things light, preferring to sidestep the bleaker themes of corruption and social injustice implicit in the material. Crespo is deliciously understated, playing Blanquito as someone who used to being a laughingstock but who has decided to keep his emotions under control and stoically bear life’s blows. Over the second half, he generates real sympathy as he wanders uncertainly around Elias’ city mansion, a fisherman out of water. Daniel Andrade’s lensing is crisp; flash cuts and jump cuts are employed at moments of dramatic urgency, pretty enough technique-wise but at odds with the pic’s otherwise controlled air. Inevitably, the score is salsa- and rumba-based.
A Cinekilotoa, Contento Pictures production. (International sales: Cinekilotoa, Quito.) Produced by Sebastian Cordero, Lisandra I. Rivera, Alejandro Arango, Laura Gomez. Executive producers, Ramiro Almeida, Jonathan Berg, Cesar Gomez. Directed by Sebastian Cordero. Screenplay, Juan Fernando Andrade, Cordero, based on a novel by Andrade.
Camera (color), Daniel Andrade; editors, Cordero, Santiago Oviedo; music, Sergio Mejia; art director, Diana Trujillo. Reviewed at San Sebastian Film Festival (Horizontes Latinos), Sept. 18, 2011. Running time: 97 MIN.
Andres Crespo, Maria Cecilia Sanchez, Carlos Valencia, Marcelo Aguirre.