El Leyton @ Festivalissimo

Within this year's Festivalissimo there is a focus on Chilean films. Some of the best films from that country have been gathered for our viewing pleasure. A unique opportunity. This film directed by Gonzalo Justiniano was originally released in 2002.

No two men could be more different than lifelong friends Leyton (Juan Pablo Saez) and Modesto (Luis Wigdorsky). They are close friends and both make a living as fishermen, but that is where the similarities end. They are fishing partners and Leyton is lazy and Modesto works hard. Leyton loves the simple life and women whereas the slightly older Modesto is addicted to modernity and technology; he wants to try whatever is new and then likes to brag about his accomplishments.

Modesto has married the straightlaced Marta (Siboney Lo), who is a beautiful young woman that is not sexually fulfilled by her husband. He is of the wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am variety. As divorce is not an option, Marta is looking forward to a life of sexual frustration.

While Modesto is away on a business trip, Marta and Leyton become lovers. Fooling around with your best friend's wife is never a good idea and not surprisingly tragedy ensues.

"El Leyton" is told in a series of flashbacks and there is a little bit of everything in this film – betrayal, friendship, lust, murder, and tragedy. A little warning for those of you out there thinking about renting/buying/watching this film: there are plenty of fairly graphic sex scenes in it. It would almost classify as soft porn. If that does not offend you, however, then enjoy away.

For a story that is fairly dark the cinematography is the exact opposite with plenty of bright and sunny scenes. The seaside backdrop is beautiful. An interesting juxtaposition.

Unfortunately that is where the beauty ends….okay, lead actress Siboney Lo is a good looking woman, but her acting skills are just not up to snuff. She goes through the film with the same wooden, lack of expression on her face. No matter the circumstance her facial expression does not change. Some of the blame has to be placed on director Justiniano as he never really allows this character to grow. She is totally a plot device rather than a fleshed out human being. Marta is treated as an object not only by the men in the film, but by the director and is simply a means to an end.

As for the story there are plenty of twists and turns in the film. But it never allows you to get into them. As soon as you think you might have things figured out the film moves on. Frustrating. The tension of the man having an affair with his best friend's wife is built up decently until the end of the film when it denigrates into an attempt at a comedic conclusion. Hunh?! Not that comedy could not have worked, but it feels a little forced to me.

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