Original Title: Madeinusa
Country: Peru, Spain
Director: Claudia Llosa
Language: Spanish, Quechua
10.01.2020: This review was first published on 14.05.2018 and is being updated for a more complete review, together with the publishing of the YouTube Version.
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The 2006 movie Madeinusa, by Claudia Llosa, is a drama centered in the 14-year-old girl Madeinusa, the very peculiar festival in the isolated Peruvian village where she lives and a stranger who arrives there.
World Cup Historic
Founded in 1927, the Peruvian team only participated in five FIFA World Cups, the best result being in 1970 when they reached quarter-finals, losing to the champions of that edition, Pelé’s Brazil.
Before going to the 2018 World Cup, Peru had a serious issue regarding his most prolific goal scorer, Paolo Guerrero, suspended for dopping even though his blood test showed that the quantity of the forbidden substance in his blood didn’t affect his performance and was too small to have been ingested voluntarily.
He was allowed to play the cup but had to fulfill the suspension after the competition. But even with Guerrero on the pitch, Peru didn’t reach the knockout stage, finishing in the third spot of the group, with three points.
Madeinusa (played by Magaly Solier) is a teenager living in an isolated village with her sister and father. In this Andean village, they have a yearly festival called Tempo Santo.
Tempo Santo means holy moment or holy time. This is how the villagers call the period between the death of Jesus and his resurrection (Easter). Since at that moment, God is dead, nothing is a sin.
During the Tempo Santo, they chose a girl to represent The Virgin, and that year, Madeinusa was the chosen one. So she wears a costume and is the center of the ceremony, a procession reenacting the crucifixion and entombment of Jesus.
Salvador (Carlos de la Torre) is a young man from Lima, the capital of Peru, who arrives in the village right during the preparations for the festival, making the villagers not so happy about it.
Before I comment on the movie, I propose a thought experiment. Imagine that the only thing preventing you from doing somethings is the notion of sin. Now, you have three days when nothing is a sin, what would you do?
I know some evangelical pastors who would die for a chance of having the gay sex they are so much against in their preaching. Just kidding, they already do it secretly.
I was excited to watch this movie, but I thought I would see something more conventional. And, to be honest, I’m glad it wasn’t, watching something unconventional is always enjoyable, in one way or another.
Claudia Llosa’s Milk of Sorrow (La teta asustada), was in my watchlist for years, but I ended up watching Madeinusa before. It was better this way because Milk of Sorrow didn’t impress me as much.
Madeinusa, the movie, is hypnotic, especially during the procession. The beautiful cinematography contemplates the wide shots and the closer shots, the first showing the beauty of the Andes and the second a vast array of colors.
The psychedelic cinematography is my favorite thing of the movie, but it’s not used just for the beauty of it, but also to help tell the very peculiar and near psychedelic story.
A beautiful village was where the movie was set, it really felt like a remote place. That is what sells the story of a secretive festivity where the people can sin without worries.
My impression of Claudia Llosa is that she cares a lot about production design. There’s the village in general, that I already mentioned, plus, the houses that look old, and poor, while the alleys are uneven and full of mud.
They have a great Crucified Jesus, it’s like a big religious Action Figure. His articulations allow for the head to drop when he dies, and for the arms to lower to ease his carrying during the procession. I don’t even know if it’s a real thing or if it was made exclusively for the film.
The movie’s plot resembles a lot of The Wicker Man from 1973. Both are in a distant village, where a stranger arrives, causing a deep discomfort in the residents because of their festivities.
Also, I love the original The Wicker Man, so Madeinusa wins in the plot department but could lose in originality, however, the cultural peculiarities are enough to look a lot different.
The girl with a curious name is portrayed by Magaly Solier, who was 20 at the time the movie was released, but her character is 14-year-old. She looks innocent and young enough to be the right one for the role, and her voice even more.
She also is, and look indigenous, like most of the cast, except Salvador. But she was not just a pretty face, as the saying says, but also was great acting, and in her debut performance, no less.
The acting, in general, is nothing crazy. I liked Yiliana Chong as Chale, Madeinusa’s sister, Carlos J. de la Torre, playing Salvador, is not bad either. I wasn’t crazy for Juan Ubaldo Huamán as Cayo, though.
Cayo is the mayor of the little village and also Madeinusa’s father, his performance was not bad, just not at the same level as the others. As for his character, the bad in him massively surpass the sorry we can feel for him for being a father abandoned by the wife.
The score is a highlight, sounding like the typical movie score, but with a touch of Peruvian music in it. Also, there’s little folk songs, sang by Madeinusa in their mother language, Quechua.
Even with the already mentioned great cinematography, the movie looks much older than it should. Even with DVD quality, it should not look so dated. Maybe one day I’ll get my hands in a Blu-Ray copy of the movie to be sure.
Especially at the beginning of the film, there’s a problem with monotony, the pace is way too slow and it seems like nothing is happening. Later, things get a little more aggitated, but not that much.
Madeinusa is a gorgeous, colorful film, Magaly Solier gives a great debut, and the flaws are not too detrimental. It’s definitely worth watching, especially for those with an open mind, 7 Moons.