Death in the Afternoon

Even more problematic is Garcia's portrayal of Lorca. He leans so exclusively on the poet's dignity in the face of adversity that it becomes almost incomprehensible why officials would find him dangerous. He isn't a fervent enough republican, artist, or even individual to pose any threat to the state. The real Lorca spoke out publicly against the Nazi persecution of German writers, belonged to two anti-fascist organizations, and flaunted his homosexuality. Garcia's aloof Lorca gallantly defends his friends, for instance, but hardly puts up a struggle when Centeno, the same fascist he had expelled from the theater for disrupting his play earlier in the movie, finally nabs him.

One of the screenwriters, Neil Cohen, says he aimed to emulate Costa-Gravas's Z in its use of a politically charged setting that underscores a suspense-thriller narrative. His film not only lacks the frisson of Costa-Gravas, it also sadly lacks the gusto of its subject. Lorca drew inspiration from flamenco, the exotic idiom of Andalusian Gypsies; the music's captivating romance helped shape the nation's aesthetic. Plaintive and impassioned, flamenco relies on the magical interpretive power of the duende (evil spirit), a parallel to the divine spirit of an artist. While the film's settings capture some of that essence, its story and principal actors fail to beguile.

The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca.
Written by Marcos Zurinaga, Juan Antonio, and Neil Cohen; directed by Marcos Zurinaga; with Andy Garcia, Esai Morales, Edward James Olmos, Giancarlo Giannini, and Miguel Ferrer.

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