Feature

El Cantante

Salsa singer Héctor Lavoe becomes a star and an addict.

El Cantante is pretty bad, but it's 'œnot a disaster of Gigli proportions,' said Lisa Rose in the Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger. This film—starring Marc Anthony and his real-life wife, Jennifer Lopez, as salsa star Héctor Lavoe and his wife, Puchi—is 'œmore a mild misfire.' Director Leon Ichaso's vision of Lavoe's life is a string of clichés, from the stock flashback footage to the spinning news headlines to the downward spiral into addiction and death. In simplifying and standardizing Lavoe's life story, Ichaso shortchanges the late singer. A pioneer of Latin music in the 1960s and '70s, Lavoe was surely more than a scoundrel and an addict, said Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle. But there's nothing special about the Héctor Lavoe of El Cantante. He's not a very well-known artist, so his marital troubles will be boring to most viewers. His addiction to heroin will be even more so. 'œAn addict's life goes in circles, and every addict's life is similar. Everything distinct about the person is either blanded out or obliterated by the drug.' So Marc Anthony has little to do but sing and look stoned, said Carrie Rickey in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Lopez's role is far more interesting, and she plays it fearlessly. 'œAs Puchi, she is unafraid to be hateful, unafraid to be greedy, unafraid to let the bitterness fly.'

Rating: R

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