×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Feast of the Goat

Epic subject-matter is trimmed ruthlessly down to audience-friendly size in Luis Llosa's English-language thriller, "The Feast of the Goat." Less a feast than a somewhat rushed, but thoroughly enjoyable, three-course meal, pic is incident-crammed, punchy and often gripping fare that dovetails its multiple stories with clinical skill.

With:
With: Tomas Milian, Isabella Rossellini, Paul Freeman, Juan Diego Botto, Stephanie Leonidas, Shawn Elliot, Murphy Guyer, Richard Bekins, Jordan Lage, Carlos Miranda, Steven Bauer, David Zayas, Eileen Atkins, Gary Piquer. (English dialogue)

Epic subject-matter is trimmed ruthlessly down to audience-friendly size in Luis Llosa’s English-language thriller, “The Feast of the Goat.” Less a feast than a somewhat rushed, but thoroughly enjoyable, three-course meal, pic is incident-crammed, punchy and often gripping fare that dovetails its multiple stories with clinical skill. However, unlike the Mario Vargas Llosa’s source novel, which explores the slow-burning psychological damage engendered by unlimited power, pic sacrifices nuance to narrative. Film goes out March 3 in Spain, and offshore prospects look solid beyond Hispanic territories thanks to pic’s universal appeal.

In 1992, lawyer Urania Cabral (Isabella Rossellini) returns from the U.S. to the Dominican Republic which, to the bafflement of her family, she fled 31 years earlier. She has come to confront her father, Agustin (Paul Freeman), formerly a high-ranking politico in the government of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo (Tomas Milian), onetime dictator but now 80 years old and infirm.

Flash back to a 1940s’ New York lecture hall, where Galindez (Gary Piquer), having denounced the Trujillo government, is arrested and flown back to the DR to meet his fate. When the case threatens to become an international incident, Trujillo has a witness, Tivito de la Maza (Jose Guillermo Cortines), killed.

Tivito’s brother, Antonio (David Zayas), having visited Agustin for assistance and failed, plots revenge against Trujillo. He is one of a group of plotters waiting on a road one night in 1961 to assassinate the dictator. Much of the pic is dedicated to the plotters backstories.

In a spectacularly cruel touch, for instance, Trujillo first forbids Amadito (Juan Diego Botto), from marrying Luisa (Sharlene Taule), the sister of a subversive (Frank Perozo), and then forces Amadito to execute the brother. Both Amadito and the condemned man’s father (Murphy Guyer) join the plotters.

Pic teems with stories and characters that are juggled well, and it adds up to a gripping, if breathless, couple of hours. Script manages to suggest much about the relationship between the personal and the political, and about the hollowness of power, but no space is created for reflection. Llosa’s background as a director of no-nonsense action-thrillers is clear throughout.

Thesps are efficient. Milian is tops as the whimsical old tyrant luxuriating in his own physical and moral decay. Other standout perf is from Freeman as Agustin, particularly as he starts to break down toward the end. Trujillo’s vicious right-hand man, Abbes (Shawn Elliot), is one of the novel’s most memorable characters, but his dramatic potential is not exploited. Rossellini, who appears only in the 1992 scenes, is fine but looks isolated.

Javier Salmones’ lensing makes the most of the widescreen format and of the rich colors of the Dominican Republic locations, particularly in outdoor scenes dedicated to Trujillo’s vast, absurd rallies. Music is efficient.

The Feast of the Goat

Spain - U.K.

Production: A UIP release (in Spain) of a Lolafilms (Spain)/Future Films (U.K.) production, with the participation of TVE, Canal Plus. (International sales: IAC Film, London.). Produced by Andres Vicente Gomez. Executive producers, Jose Manuel Garasino, Stephen Margolis, Albert Martinez-Martin. Directed by Luis Llosa. Screenplay, Llosa, Augusto Cabada, Zachary Sklar, from the novel by Mario Vargas Llosa.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Javier Salmones; editor, Alejandro Lazaro; music, Stephen Warbeck; art director, Salvador Parra; sound (Dolby Digital), Peter Glossop. Reviewed at Cine Palafox, Madrid, Feb. 14, 2006. (In Berlin Film Festival -- Berlinale Special.) Running time: 125 MIN.

With: With: Tomas Milian, Isabella Rossellini, Paul Freeman, Juan Diego Botto, Stephanie Leonidas, Shawn Elliot, Murphy Guyer, Richard Bekins, Jordan Lage, Carlos Miranda, Steven Bauer, David Zayas, Eileen Atkins, Gary Piquer. (English dialogue)

More Film

  • SAG Awards Placeholder

    SAG Award Nominations (Updating Live)

    Awkwafina and Laverne Cox announced the nominations for the 25th Annual SAG Awards on Wednesday morning. TNT, TBS, and truTV aired the announcement live from the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, Calif., beginning at 10 a.m. ET/PT. SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris introduced the presenters, who revealed nominations for acting in television and film. Prior to [...]

  • SAG Awards Placeholder

    How to Watch the SAG Awards Nominations Live

    Awkwafina and Laverne Cox will announce the nominees for the 25th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Wednesday at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, Calif. Beginning 10 a.m. ET/PT, the nominations will be carried live on TNT, TBS, and truTV. SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris will introduce Awkwafina and Cox. Prior to that announcement, SAG Awards [...]

  • SF Studios Acquires Norwegian Production Company

    SF Studios Acquires Norwegian Production Company Paradox

    SF Studios has acquired Paradox, the well-established Scandinavian company behind Erik Poppe’s “U-July 22,” to launch Norwegian production operations. SF Studios, which will be celebrating its centenary next year, has up until now focused on the production of feature films and drama series in Sweden and Denmark. The company also boasts distribution operations in Norway [...]

  • Osopez Pitches Toon Adult comedy 'Pleasefixers'

    Animation!: Costa Rica's Osopez Pitches 'The Pleasefixers'

    Costa Rican animation studio Osopez is developing 3D CGI black comedy series “The Pleasefixers,” its most ambitious project to date, which has been selected for pitching at Ventana Sur’s 3rd Animation! showcase. Co-created by Osopez’s Ariel Arburola and Carlos Redondo, the 12-episode, 23-minute TV show targets young adults and adults, aged 18-34. “Pleasefixers” follows a [...]

  • ‘The Goalkeeper’s’ Gory Patiño Teams With

    ‘The Goalkeeper’s’ Gory Patiño Teams with Luis Reneo on ‘Pseudo’

    Bolivia’s Gory Patiño, writer-director for his country’s Academy Award submission “The Goalkeeper” – also the highest grossing Bolivian film in 15 years – and his frequent filmmaking partner, Spain’s Luis Reneo, are participating in this year’s Ventana Sur films in progress section with their socio-political thriller “Pseudo.” The project was also selected as a finalist [...]

  • Roy Ashton

    Ventana Sur: The Gersh Agency’s Roy Ashton Talks Pitching 101

    BUENOS AIRES — Roy Ashton, responsible for packaging and selling projects to markets and operators such as Amazon for Hollywood’s The Gersh Agency, spoke to a standing-room-only crowd about the process of pitching successfully to the U.S. market ahead of a script workshop he attended Tuesday afternoon. Ashton emphasized the draw of storytelling on an international [...]

  • Ainbo

    Ventana Sur: CMG Pre-Sells ‘Ainbo’ to Over Half the World (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — Marking what looks very much like a new record for animation in Latin America, Edward Noeltner’s Cinema Management Group, the sales company behind Oscar-nominated “Loving Vincent,” has pre-sold “Ainbo – Spirit of the Amazon” to over half the planet. “Ainbo” was picked up by CMG in January 2017 off the first edition [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content