Top positive review
21 people found this helpful
A Thoroughly Entertaining Film from Peru
on May 14, 2004
PANTALEON Y LAS VISITADORS (Pantaleon and the "Visitors") is a completely satisfying cinematic conversion of the novel by Mario Vargas Llosa by the excellent Director Francisco Lombardi. The film is so successful in telling the tale of a traveling boat of prostitutes who are engaged by the Peruvian Army to provide 'outlets' for the soldiers quartered in the jungles of the Amazon (and have been abusing the local women) that what first appears to be a hilarious comedy becomes a rather profound statement about one man's ideals and his dedication to authority: the perfect Military Officer.
Captain Panteleon Pantoja (Salvador del Solar) is such an excellent organizer and dedicated officer that he is the one chosen by all of the top military officials to resolve the problem of addressing the sexual needs of the isolated Peruvian soldiers. He organizes, with the help of a brothel owner Chuchupe (Pilar Bardem), a carefully screened cadre of 'ladies of the night or visitadors', has 'uniforms' made, and arranges a military post where the 'Visitadors' are brought in by boat to service the eager soldiers. The project is an enormous success in every way. Pantaleon is obsessed with his project, much to the neglect of his wife Pocha (Monica Sanchez), and is eventually drawn into an indiscretion with one of the Visitadors called La Colombiana (the steamy Angie Cepeda). From there things begin to lose humor, the project is made public by the wily, disgusting radio talk show host El Sinchi (played to the hilt by Aristoteles Picho!), and ultimately comedy turns to tragedy. The real interest of this film is how despite the ultimate failure of the project, our by-the-book Panteleon manages to find a way to bounce back! A satisfying surprise ending to a fine 'message film'. The cinematography is superb, the jungles of the Amazon have not felt so steamy since "The African Queen" jungles, and the acting is intelligent, terse, and informed. There is much to celebrate in this excellent film, not the least of which are the many underlying motives that wear strange costumes but reveal universal truths. In Spanish with English subtitles.