Our Lady of the Assassins (film)
|Our Lady of the Assassins
(La virgen de los sicarios)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Barbet Schroeder|
|Written by||Fernando Vallejo|
Juan David Restrepo
|Music by||Jorge Arriagada|
|Editing by||Elsa Vásquez|
|Running time||98 mins|
Our Lady of the Assassins (Spanish: La virgen de los sicarios) is a film by Barbet Schroeder about a Colombian author in his fifties who returns to his hometown of Medellín after 30 years of absence to find himself trapped in an atmosphere of violence and murder caused by drug cartel warfare. It is adapted from the novel of the same title by Fernando Vallejo.
Fernando (Germán Jaramillo) meets Alexis (Anderson Ballesteros), a handsome gay youth, at a party of one of his old friends and immediately falls for him. The two begin a relationship which, apart from the sex, consists mainly in Fernando telling Alexis how pastoral the city was when he left, while Alexis explains to Fernando the ins and outs of everyday robbery, violence, and shootings. Even though Fernando has come home to die, his sarcastic worldview is mellowed somewhat by his relationship with Alexis.
He soon discovers that Alexis is a gang member and hitman (or sicario) himself, and that members of other gangs are after him. After several assassination attempts fail because of Alexis' skillful handling of his Beretta, he is finally killed by two boys on a motorcycle. Fernando is partly responsible for this, as Alexis' weapon has been lost before the murder due to Fernando's suicidal impulses.
Fernando visits Alexis' mother and gives her some money, and then walks through the streets aimlessly when he encounters Wilmar (Juan David Restrepo), who bears a striking resemblance to Alexis, not only in his looks but in his entire manner.
He invites Wilmar for lunch and the two begin an affair, rekindling the kind of relationship he had with Alexis. Wilmar is also a killer, but it is a shocking revelation to Fernando when he finds out that Wilmar is the one who shot Alexis. He vows to kill Wilmar, but then learns it was Alexis who started the violence by killing Wilmar's brother, calling for vengeance on him by Wilmar.
When Wilmar goes to say goodbye to his mother before he and Fernando leave the country together, he is killed as well. Seeing that the vicious cycle of atrocities in Medellín denies happiness, Fernando presumably commits suicide, if the last scene is taken to hint at that.
- Germán Jaramillo as Fernando
- Anderson Ballesteros as Alexis
- Juan David Restrepo as Wilmar
- Manuel Busquets as Alfonso
The film was shot with early high-definition video cameras (Sony HDW-700) in the year 2000. The digital video gives the movie a cinéma vérité look and was one of the first uses of HD video for a feature film.
At face value, the film can be seen as an indictment of the terrible situation in present-day Medellín—however, the character of Fernando is not unproblematic. While during much of the movie he seems like an innocent bystander to the action, his fascination with all things morbid and moribund shows that to some degree he seeks out and enjoys the violence.
This is also evident in his reactions to the killings done by his lovers, that range from speechlessness to a feeling of almost divine power as time passes. He also does not leave the city despite the clear danger to Alexis' / Wilmar's lives, even though he has inherited enough money to go wherever he wants. Therefore, the film can also be seen as depicting the symbiotic relationship between the author and his subject matter, namely the Medellín gangs.
According to the director, the relationship between Fernando and Alexis is patterned on Greek pederasty, where "not only was a boy learning from an adult, but an adult was also learning from the boy. It's a two-way relationship, especially in this movie, where the writer discovers things about the new realities of his town that he would never know otherwise. And obviously, the boy has everything to discover from this adult."
- David Lamble , Life, love and death in Medellin: Barbet Schroeder's 'Our Lady of the Assassins' is out on DVD in the Bay Area Reporter; Published 02/08/2007