El Bulto

on August 28, 1992 by Kim Williamson
   The fable of Rip Van Winkle updated to current-day Central America, "El Bulto" tells the story of a liberal photographer, Lauro (director/producer/co-writer/star Gabriel Retes), who's hit over the head by police during a peaceful protest and who wakes up 20 years later. His offspring -- actress daughter Sonia and the rebellious Daniel (Gabriela and Juan Claudio Retes, the director's children) -- are grown, and the world has changed; former fellow socialists are now materialists. None of this is to Lauro's liking, and he makes sure that everyone knows this.
   The film has one key flaw: Lauro's incessant blustering makes him an unlikable central character, and his tantrums' repetitiveness seems to arduously lengthen the 112-minute running time of this 1991 production (now being released by Million Dollar Enterprises, an L.A.-based concern that has previously handled only fare for first-generation immigrants). But the assured playing of the supporting cast -- especially by Gabriela Retes (imagine a younger, Mexican Meryl Streep) -- plus the inventive plot and director's otherwise excellent control of the material make this an art-house standout.    Starring Gabriel Retes, Gabriela Retes and Juan Claudio Retes. Directed and produced by Gabriel Retes. Written by Gabriel Retes, Gabriela Retes and Maria del Pozo. A Million Dollar release. Drama. Spanish-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 112 min.
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