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The Return of Lencho

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

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

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.

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The Return of Lencho


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

Crew: 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.

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

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