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Minimal Knowledge

Diverse narrative strands involving a young detective, serial killer, romance and reincarnation vie for center stage in scripter-helmer Gregory Corrado's sophomore outing. Winner of a couple of audience awards at small fests, odd blend of beefcake and romantic mysticism may earn pic play on Hispanic and femme-targeted cable.

Diverse narrative strands involving a young detective, serial killer, romance and reincarnation vie for center stage in scripter-helmer Gregory Corrado’s sophomore outing. The various elements never fully connect, while the predictable reincarnation subplot inflates exponentially. But DV imagery is evocative enough to hold pic together, and pairing of Chilean hunk Cristian de la Fuente and delicate blonde Izabella Miko generates enough sexual chemistry to buoy occasionally wobbly thesping. Winner of a couple of audience awards at small fests, odd blend of beefcake and romantic mysticism may earn pic play on Hispanic and femme-targeted cable.

“I don’t want to have to take off my shirt to succeed,” de la Fuente is quoted as declaring in an interview, but apparently he wasn’t talking about this film: He lounges around in provocative shirtless poses contemplating fate or pondering murder suspects in interludes strangely reminiscent of the Bardot inserts in “Contempt.”

Meant to read as a repressed enigmatic loner, Fuente imbues his cop character, Matt, with affability as superfluous to his character’s psychology as it is may be attractive to his audience.

Matt is immediately confronted with three life-changing events: he gets a new cop partner, a new case and a new love.

The new partner (Henry Marshall) immediately appoints himself as Matt’s big brother/adviser. They investigate a series of murders of old ladies, which according to the new partner, represent the perpetrator killing his mother over and over again.

In traditional generic fashion (1965’s “No Way to Treat a Lady,” for instance), Matt’s own circumstances uneasily mirror the murderer’s: He never visits his mother in the hospital; and the lady, who lives downstairs in his brownstone and has become his substitute mom, is the killer’s penultimate victim.

Scripter/helmer Corrado fails to flesh out the killer, who functions more as a malevolent deus ex machina in a mystical scenario that includes Matt’s new girlfriend Renee (Miko). Turns out that Renee is the reincarnation of Matt’s first love, a girl run over by a truck after granting Matt his first kiss in pic’s heavy-handed opening scene.

Renee possesses “minimal knowledge” (the phrase comes from a chyroned quote from Plato) of past lives that allow her to divine hidden metaphysical clues –information that includes some interesting facts about Matt’s past lives.

Despite the lame script and a maddening tendency to promise more than it delivers, pic creates its own rhythms and sustainable ambiance. Corrado and lenser Ly Bolia create a nice deep-focus, slightly off-kilter look, with unexpected long-shots during intimate scenes that visually validate the film’s cosmic point of view.

Minimal Knowledge

  • Production: A Corrado Schoner production. Produced by David W. Schoner Jr. Directed, written, edited by Gregory Corrado.
  • Crew: Camera (color, DV), Ly Bolia; music, Mark Petrie; art director, Tom Guzio. Reviewed at New York Latino Film Festival, July 25, 2003. (Also in Sarasota, Ajijic (Mexico) and Sedona film festivals.) Running time: 98 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Cristian de la Fuente, Izabella Miko, Henry Marshall, Christian Graham, Iraida Polonca. (English, some Spanish dialogue)