Dominican cinema is at it again. With a booming production and a recent partnership agreement between powerhouse Hollywood studio Pantelion Films and the D.R.-based production company Indomina, Quisqueya la bella is poised to become one of the new epicenters of commercial film production in Latin America over the next couple of years with their distinct brand of popular comedy.
But with increased output, has come frequent criticism that locally produced films are increasingly formulaic, relying on exaggerated gestures, canned plot lines and infantilized characters for comedic affect. Enter De pez en cuando, the new feature from first-time director Francisco Valdez. Judging from the trailer, the film fits firmly in the tradition of Dominican popular comedy (perhaps brought to it’s greatest expression in Ángel Muñiz’ Nueba Yol), but with some stylistic touches reminiscent of a Guy Ritchie caper or even the absurd anti-hero-driven comedy of The Big Lebowski.
The film follows a series of unexpected events in the life of Ben: a failed, suicidal writer who is rear-ended by an attractive woman with a pet goldfish. Ben quickly finds himself caught up in a web of confusion and intrigue complete with jealous boyfriends, gun-toting thugs, and mistaken identities.
So far Dominican critics have been impressed not only by the film’s production value, but by the subtle, situational comedy that drives along the story. Indeed, the film seems to be a step up from guilty pleasures like 2007’s Sanky Panky, with slick photography, understated performances, and a keen sense of the absurd. While it may still be rough around the edges, De pez en cuando could bode well for the future of Dominican comedy.
And be sure to check out the official song, a catchy, Calle 13-esque number from Dominican reggaetonero Mozart La Para.
De pez en cuando is screening in competition as part of the Ícaro International Film Festival in Guatemala.