¨Drugs…we have to fear them in the same way we fear the Ocean.¨
Sebastian Cordero, probably the best known Ecuadorian director, became noticed in 1999 for his feature film ¨Ratas, Ratones, Rateros ¨ which was nominated for best Spanish language foreign film in the Goya Awards (The Spanish equivalent to the Oscars) among many other awards. Pescador (Fisherman) is his fourth film and unfortunately the only one I`ve had the honor of watching so I can’t judge his work based on his other films. What I can say however, is that this is a great film powered by the performance of Andres Crespo, who plays the lead character, Blanquito (Whitey), a simple man who finds an opportunity to get out of the small fishing village he lives in and fulfill his dreams. Crespo is the heart and soul of this movie. He`s not your typical hero, he`s more of an anti-hero who has several vices and flaws, but someone you can really connect with. His performance is just so simplistic and natural that you forget that he`s acting; it`s the best leading performance I`ve seen all year. The supporting cast is also great in this film, but it`s Crespo who maintains us interested in this story. He is a man every Ecuadorian has seen in the streets before, an ordinary person who comes across an extraordinary circumstance and is given an opportunity to succeed in life although at the same time it could mean the end of him as well. He`s introduced to an entirely different world and in a way the movie plays out as the classic fish out of the water tale. The circumstances don`t change Blanquito, but he is introduced to a dangerous world and we can`t help but feel the tension, and fear for his life. This tension is handled with absolute mastery by Cordero who builds up the momentum and then loosens the mood with moments of comedic relief (another element that Crespo helped deliver with perfect comedic timing).
As for the plot goes, Blanquito (Andres Crespo) who is in his thirties has lived all his life in a small fishing village in Ecuador with his mother. Like most everyone in El Matal, they live under very poor circumstances and live off fishing. He works in the beach helping the fishermen get their boats into the water, while his mother cooks for the people in the village. He dreams of leaving the town and meeting his biological father who is an important political figure in the big city of Guayaquil. He finds the opportunity he`s been waiting for when several boxes of cocaine wash up in the shore. Along with the rest of the fishermen they collect the cocaine and divide it amongst them. Soon the police show up warning them that if they find the drugs they must turn it in, but these men decide to sell the drugs back to the drug dealers who offer what seems like a lot of money for them in return. Blanquito who might be simple and naïve at times has his ¨street smarts¨ as well and realizes he can sell the drugs for ten times as much in Guayaquil. The only thing he will need is to find buyers and therefore enlists the help of a Colombian woman he met named Lorna (Maria Cecilia Sanchez). She has been living with a wealthy man named Elías (Marcelo Aguirre), and they own a very nice house in El Matal, but have had a big fight recently. Together Blanquito and Lorna form an unlikely alliance and decide to travel to Guayaquil with a driver she knows named Fabricio (Carlos Valencia) to find buyers, but dealing with drugs can be a dangerous thing.
Cordero does an excellent job with the direction of this film, which he also co-wrote the script for along with writer Juan Fernando Andrade. The movie is actually based on Andrade`s short story about a fisherman who finds drugs off the beach shore. This film doesn’t claim to be based on that true story, but inspired by it. This is a claim most Hollywood films should make because we know that their stories aren`t based on real events, because in film everything is manipulated so in a way it is best to say inspired on real events instead; that way you aren`t lying to your audience, and you`re given the ability to create your own story. This is really a great film which owes much of its success to Andres Crespo, but also has an excellent soundtrack and a very beautiful cinematography (Daniel Andrade) as well. Sanchez and Valencia also give great performances and are given interesting characters that are far from being one dimensional. They are complex, we don`t know everything about them, we fear that at any time any one of them can betray Blanquito. This is what keeps the tension and the momentum flowing. Cordero directs Pescador with excellent pacing and keeps us interested in the story; Crespo delivers one of the best performances of the year so far with a very memorable character and perfect comedic timing. Most complaints could come from the ending because it is kind of open ended, but I found it perfect because the journey doesn’t always end at one specific moment. These kind of endings have become a trend lately, we`ve seen it in films such as Martha Marcy May Marlene, where we may have to fill in the gaps at the end. Pescador is a really great film and I`m looking forward to seeing Cordero`s previous work along with his upcoming film, Europa. I highly recommend Pescador!