Despite being dead for 25 years, Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar has remained a prominent figure in pop culture, particularly in films and television. Most recently depicted on the Netflix series Narcos, and in the movies The Infiltrator and American Made. Escobar continues to churn out grist for the film world and now another actor is planning to take the reins and play the “Robin Hood” of drug dealers.
From Spanish director Fernando León de Aranoa, Loving Pablo follows Colombian newscaster Virginia Vallejo (Penélope Cruz) who winds up in a romantic relationship with Escobar (played by Cruz’s real-life husband, Javier Bardem) and eventually ends up helping to bring the drug kingpin down.
There’s a marked note of ambiguity in the trailer’s opening, introducing Cruz as the ambivalent heroine who “doesn’t care how Pablo makes his money,” but only how he decides to “use” it. In this case, she sees him using his ill-gotten gains to help their country’s poor. Set amidst the backdrop of the War on Drugs in the 1980s – Pablo even tells his son at the end of the trailer to “just say no” to drugs like Nancy Reagan – we see Virginia compelled to fight against her lover while Escobar declares that he doesn’t want money, he wants “respect.” Scenes of violence are ramped up in the concluding moments, with Virginia’s life in the crosshairs, literally.
The story certainly sounds interesting as there aren’t many Escobar narratives told from the perspective of the women in his life. Cruz and Bardem have an obvious chemistry but it’s hard not to believe this is a costume performance wherein Cruz’s wigs and Bardem’s increasing use of fat suits will overshadow their performances. There’s also an unshakeable TV movie feel to everything. Either way, if you’re looking for a new take on Escobar this might give you what you want.
Loving Pablo opens in theaters and on digital platforms on October 5, 2018.