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The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca
Starring Esai Morales and Andy Garcia
Written and Directed by Marcos Zurinaga

IN SHORT: A perfect murder mystery. Almost.

Once upon a time there was a famous Spanish playwright named Garcia Lorca (Andy Garcia) who pissed off the Catholic populace (ie. the Establishment) by writing plays declaring God is Dead. He also dressed dressing with way too much style for any macho heterosexual Spaniard. Then again, considering the battle suits that matadors wear, there's something ironic about that last sentence. Lorca was murdered in the Spanish Fascist revolution that brought dictator Francisco Franco to power, and the murder was never solved.

Which is just as good a place as any to begin a story that recreates the situation and imposes its own solution upon the mystery. The film is The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca and, while dancing around Lorca's sexual preferences -- which sets up one of two absolute slam dunks at the climax -- takes its sweet time setting up all the characters and possible stories. When the end comes and the trigger finger behind the murder is revealed; you will never see it coming in a million years. Only a true cynic would hazard the correct guess and, having done so let me say that, I dismissed my conclusion as being way too far fetched.

This is how it goes: The story revolves around Ricardo and Jorge, two teen fanboys of Lorca (nothing sexual here, just sheer idol worship) who get to meet the poet in the last week of his life. As the Revolution comes the kidlets run like hell, but Jorge is caught and shot in the back. Ricardo's father is beaten to a pulp and the family flees to Puerto Rico. 14 years later, the fanboy is a journalist, full of piss and vinegar and determined to return home to solve the murder of his idol.

The early attempts to establish Lorca as a great man can only fail onscreen -- there's just not enough time to do it and, outside the Latin (and/or poetry lovers) world, Lorca is an unknown name. Where this story kicks into high gear is the murder mystery, and it's a good one. Ricardo (Esai Morales) is dogged in his pursuit of the truth. Depending on the stories of the "witnesses," Andy Garcia's Lorca comes at you from both sides -- it's that Rashomon thing -- and he delivers the goods. From the affected swish of a homosexual dandy's wrist in one telling to the commanding presence of a director and artist in another, it is compelling viewing. The murder is told from four or five different points of view, each adding a little bit more to the story that has been created. Edward James Olmos plays the politician so filled with guilt that he becomes publisher of Lorca's work. Miguel Ferrer is outstanding as the man in black, almost stereotypical bad guy. There's also a barely there love story featuring, the lovely Marcela Walerstein, to assuage any uncertainty about what side of the fence the adult Ricardo sits on.

Lorca's homosexuality must have been blatant enough that the filmmaker felt they had to do the dance around it. It is, for the most part, secondary to the discovery of the "killer." But absolutely important for one of the surprises at the end of the flick.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca, he would have paid . . .


The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca is not a lightweight flick and, coming as we begin the Oscar® race, may get lost in the flood as the rest of the herd comes pouring out of the gate. Still, for the murder-mystery revelation alone, it is recommended.

[And if you have no idea what I meant by the "Rashomon thing" go out immediately and rent the film. Or at least go to the library and look up Akira Kurosawa, who created one of the very few film masterpieces. Nuff said]


Click to buy films starring Andy Garcia

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