Saturday, June 21, 2008

Manuela y Manuel

Saturday, June 21, 9:00 pm, Castro Theatre, MANU21C
Monday, June 23, 9:30 pm, Elmwood Theatre (Berkeley), MANU23E

Manuela (Humberto Busto, Amores Perros) is a Puerto Rican drag queen, performing in a nightclub and living in a beautiful apartment, but all is not roses and champagne. Manuela's boyfriend Toño dumped her, the crazy landlady is after the rent, and her best friend Coca is pregnant after a one-night stand — but wants Manuela to put on boy drag and pretend to be the baby daddy, to conceal the truth from Coca's crazy parents. Toss in the landlady's crazy niece (pining for a husband who just left her), plus some unexpected cross-connections among the characters, add liquor, firearms, and taffeta, plus an over-the-top gringo businessman, and stand back and watch the soap-opera comedy spin. Laugh-out-loud funny (even though the subtitles — as always — miss a good few subtleties of the dialogue), but also an engaging and sometimes touching story. Humberto Busto is flawless, the costumes are great, and the dizzying pace of the screwball antics leaves just enough breathing room to recover before the next plot twist. MUST SEE

If you missed this one on Saturday, you get a second chance in the East Bay on Monday.

Manuela y Manuel, dir. Raúl Marchand Sánchez, 2007 Puerto Rico 94 min., in Spanish with English subtitles

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