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May 2006

Akeelah and the Bee Review

By Melissa Walters

La Mujer De Mi Hermano Review

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Distributor: Lions Gate Films
Director: Ricardo de Montreuil
Producer: Stan Jakubowicz
Screenwriter: Jamie Bayly
Cast: Barbara Mori, Christian Meier, Manolo Cardona, Gaby Espino, Beto Cuevas, Bruno Bichir, Angelica Aragon

   

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At first glance La Mujer De Mi Hermano, My Brother’s Wife, appears to be a typical story about a love triangle. An adaptation of Peruvian author/talk show host Jamie Bayly’s best selling novel, those familiar with Bayly’s previous works ( No Se lo Digas a Nadie), may have more easily anticipated the plot twists. Set in Mexico City, the epicenter of Latin American film, and starring well known Latin American talent in lead roles, La Mujer De Mi Hermano, Ricardo De Montreil’s first feature film, tells a story about a n elitist family living a façade that is threatened by lust, secrets and betrayal. The film has proven a great success amongst the Latin American audience.

In La Mujer De Mi Hermano, Zoe (Barbara Mori) is married to Ignacio (Christian Meier), the wealthy heir to a family business who is so regimented and uptight he will only have sex with Zoe on Saturdays. Zoe’s privileged, but unfulfilling marriage, is further strained by Zoe’s inability to make Ignacio’s mother, Cristina (Angelica Aragon), a grandmother. Encouraged by her gay friend and confidant, Boris (Bruno Bichir), Zoe finds herself seeking comfort in the arms of the wrong man; Ignacio’s estranged brother Gonzalo (Manolo Cardona); a free spirited artist who shunned his obligations to the family business and who is in every way Ignacio’s antithesis. With a deep rooted disdain for Ignacio, Gonzalo revels in the opportunity to disgrace his brother with his brother’s wife. Not surprisingly, the tryst results in an unexpected pregnancy; forcing Zoe to confess her sins to Ignacio. However, Zoe soon learns that she is not the only one who has sinned; Ignacio harbors a secret of his own; a secret that is at the heart of the animosity between the brothers.

With a surging interest in all things Latin, coupled with the beautiful actors, beautiful home and contemporary feel of this film, there is hope for producer Stan Jakubowicz that this film has main stream cross-over appeal. Even the film’s soundtrack, composed and arranged by Angelo Milli and featuring a version of Grammy winning Latin rock band, La Ley’s, classic tune, Mentira, effectively appeals to a broader audience. However Columbian born Cardona, who will soon be seen in The Reaping starring Hillary Swank, and Gabriela Espino, who played Laura, Gonzalo's tempestuous lover, offered the only passionate performances in the entire film. The dialogue between Meier and Mori was flat and the performances devoid of appropriate emotions.

Notwithstanding its directorial weaknesses, the film is appealing enough, albeit in a telenovela sort of way, to leave a lasting impression on American audiences.