A 21-year-old man with piercing blue eyes, chiselled face, smooth olive skin, tight rippled stomach and deep Latino accent tends to smuggle commercial quantities of cocaine if he’s not involved in a murder conspiracy.
(From the Spanish movies El Niño and Marshland)
Click here to see who I’m talking about.
At the 2015 Spanish Film Festival, I spent a Saturday seeing five movies. Jesús Castro was arrested for drug smuggling in the afternoon and murder in the evening. (Or at least, the characters he was playing were!)
Movies can manipulate you into liking the most awful things. At the end of The Silence of the Lambs, we laugh when a cannibal serial killer says he’s ‘having an old friend for dinner’. We don’t like the intended victim because he used his position at work to make a sleazy comment to the story’s heroine and ask her out on a date. Inappropriate workplace behaviour for sure, but not too many industrial relations systems around the world would include being murdered and eaten as appropriate sanctions for this sort of thing!
In El Niño, the ‘hero’ originally smuggles hash, and only later moves to cocaine. He’s handsome and daring. When the police are in a helicopter chasing him, he defies them in a speed boat. He’s charming, in love with a beautiful woman and has a good friend. His dealers mess him around and there’s corruption in the police force.
The movie could have cut back and forward between him having a laugh and cocaine addicts suffering and dying, but it doesn’t. We want him to get away with committing serious criminal offences that seriously hurt other people. Clever. Powerful.