La virgen de los sicarios
starring Germán Jaramillo, Anderson Ballesteros, Juan David Restrepo, Manuel Busquets
screenplay by Fernando Vallejo
directed by Barbet Schroeder
by Walter Chaw At his best (Barfly, Idi Amin Dada, Reversal of Fortune), Barbet Schroeder is mercilessly unblinking. He delves into the sundry with such a dedicated nihilism that it makes the horror of his situations palatable somehow. The same kind of thing Cronenberg does with grotesquery, Schroeder does with atrocity: we are led behind the curtain to where the real ugliness lies with a casual air that defuses sensationalism and murders prurience through protagonists--at least the best ones (Charles Bukowski, Idi Amin, Claus von Bulow)--drawn from the insipid impiety of real life. That's perhaps the source of my discomfort with the anti-hero of Our Lady of the Assassins (La virgen de los sicarios"), an only semi-autobiographical writer first brought to life in Fernando Vallejo's 1994 novel of the same name and now embodied in the lanky frame of Latin actor Germán Jaramillo. He is an existentialist philosopher torn by the eternal conflict between passion for life and passion for destruction, but he has no grounding in the mundane that would make the character something more than a wandering gadfly. If Vallejo, a jaded chronicler of a train-wreck who has no connection to the evolving horror, is the projection of a first-world consciousness observing the travails of a disintegrating third world, the greatest irony of the failure and success of the film is in its own triumphant disconnection.