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Vengo
2001
Directed by Tony Gatlif

Reviewed by
Bill Hubbard
3.5 stars


A medley of musical numbers is justified by a fairly thin storyline, based around a typical family vendetta scenario and used to provide a variety of pretexts for musical get-togethers (the opening sequence has no relation to that story). Shot in the parched countryside of Andalusia, as with Latchmo Drom, Gatlif is clearly wanting to depict the flesh and blood milieu from which the music has spring. In that he is successful (in one remarkable sequence a woman in her 60's sings stridently of "sorrow, sorrow" at a baby's christening), but the focus is very much upon the mythicised paternalism of Latin culture. Antonia Canales is compelling as the "gangsta" patrone but the machismo of the endlessly idle, preening males gets a little wearing. Beautifully filmed, the monied environment of Vengo (Mercedes, private yachts) gives Gatlif the opportunity to add some gloss to gypsy culture but I preferred it when he was wandering through muddy villages and his characters slept on straw beds not tasselled cushions. BH

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