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La hija del engaño (Daughter of Deceit)

Posted by martinteller on June 13, 2013

Quintin (Fernando Soler) is a travelling salesman.  He is an honest man but a poor man, much to the chagrin of his wife Maria (Lily Aclemar), trying to raise their infant daughter on their meager income.  Quintin is about to leave for another sales trip but the train is delayed so he returns home… and finds his wife in bed with another man.  He kicks her out and when she tries to take the baby, she claims that Quintin is not the father.  Enraged, he drops the child off at a stranger’s house.  He takes over a casino/nightclub and becomes a hardened man, but every month he sends a small stipend anonymously to the couple raising the girl.  20 years later, Maria on her deathbed begs to see Quintin, and tells him that the girl was indeed his flesh and blood.  Quintin returns to the home, only to find that Marta (Alicia Caro) has just run off with her lover.  He has his two henchmen (Fernando Soto, Nacho Contla) search high and low for her.

Not an especially Buñuellian film for Buñuel, but it has its moments.  It’s high melodrama with twisty coincidences, in the vein of Matarazzo.  Quintin is not far from the standard Buñuel protagonist… a brutish man whose rash impulses are his downfall.  There’s also some decent comedy, especially in the antics of Soto and Contla, who make a terrific pair.  The nightclub is amusingly called “The Inferno” and is decorated with flames, as that’s the locale where Quintin’s soul gradually burns away.

There are some nice touches here and there.  The 20 year transition is done beautifully with a POV shot inside a cabinet at the foster family’s home.  The doors close on one period, and in darkness we hear what sounds like the same conversation continuing.  But as the doors open again, it is revealed that we’ve jumped forward in time.  All the performances are enjoyable, especially the aforementioned goons, and Ampara Garrido as Marta’s sister (i.e., the real daughter of the foster parents).  Garrido has a cute subplot with Soto and gets to do a sexy number in the club.  There’s also a nice noir-ish vibe to some of the photography and the film overall has a classic Hollywood feel.

Unfortunately, the movie should have ended two minutes earlier.  The conclusion is a bunch of feelgood nonsense that isn’t at all earned, or at the very least is rushed into too quickly.  Even with the nice fourth-wall-breaking shot at the very end, it’s a disappointment to an otherwise pretty enjoyable, if minor, flick.  Rating: Good (72)


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