Review: ‘The Return of Lencho’

"The Return of Lencho"

As a fictional heroic narrative, writer-director Mario Rosales' pic comes across as repetitively and regrettably self-indulgent.

As a sampling of flourishing populist art in Guatemala, “The Return of Lencho” solidly plugs into graffiti/mural painting, avant-garde dance, poetry slams and hip-hop. As an expose of the murderous military police presence that still covertly holds sway behind the nation’s liberal facade, it convinces. But as a fictional heroic narrative, writer-director Mario Rosales’ pic comes across as repetitively and regrettably self-indulgent. Still, its bold palette and lively musicality may overcome its melodramatic excesses for some in limited theatrical play.

Lencho (Mario Lanz), a tortured soul, comes home to Guatemala, triggering memories of his father’s death, a scene re-enacted so frequently it feels more like a tic than a trauma. Lencho is even portrayed as Christ on the cross, albeit in his own erotic dream. The military tags him as a potential political threat, so when he and his fellow rebellious artists organize a multidisciplinary arts festival in Rabinal, the site of a 1982 Mayan massacre by the army, his movements are recorded and interpreted as seditious, with tragic results.

The Return of Lencho



An Occularis Films production in collaboration with Romeo Galante Prods., Max Films, Central Communicacion & Codice Cinema. Produced, directed, written by Mario Rosales.


Camera (color, HD), Raquel Fernandez; editor, Gabriel Adderley; music, Radio Zumbido (Juan Carlos Barrios); art director, Fernando Galvez; costume designer, Pablo "Punk" Estrada; sound designer, Giacomo Bounafina. Reviewed on DVD, New York, Nov. 4, 2012. Running time: 101 MIN.


Mario Lanz, Tatiana Palomo, Mariam Aguilar, Carlos Chacon, Emanuel Loarca, Manuel Chitay, Jorge Asturias. (English, Spanish, Kaqchikel dialogue)

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