Vengo

"Good"

Vengo Review


Set in Spain, Vengo is a standard mob story with a highly artistic twist. There isn't much of a plot, and what there is isn't that important. It is simply a frame within which to explore the culture of some vibrant Spanish gypsies. In fact, the actual "talkie" scenes almost become too much of a distraction from the rich portrayal of the community.

In Vengo, there are two warring families whom you can't tell apart until they are yelling at each other. You connect with Caco (Antonio Canales) because he is followed throughout the film. He is charismatic, even in arrogance. Everyone loves and obeys him, somewhat at a distance, as his daughter recently died. He is the guardian of his nephew because his brother shot a member of the Caravacas family, which wants blood for blood, like any Godfather movie, while Caco tries his best to make peace.

Caco spends time with his family, throwing parties with hired bands, making sure his retarded nephew has a good time. In between are moments with those in charge of the Caravacas family, building a slow, poignant path to revenge. Every once in a while a few comedic notes are thrown in as the older women of the village clean up after the youngsters.

Luckily the plot development is repetitively simple so that all of the characters have room to be sympathetic. There isn't an annoying "good and evil" perspective placed on the viewer. This film is not about picking sides in an argument or making morality calls. It's simply an age-old dilemma of how one family deals with loss and another family who must grudgingly accept responsibility for it.

But the music and dancing are the key roles in Vengo. Between the variety shown and the pride taken in skill and passing down of tradition, it's easy to become mesmerized with the culture. A nice added touch is that men take as much pride as women in being able to evoke physical grace. And though the dancing does have a sexually alluring quality, it is not the reason for participation.

It can be difficult to grasp the lyrics because they are only partially subtitled. This is unfortunate for outsiders who know little about gypsy life because it's impossible to guess at the inspiration for such emoting performances. At least the emotional expression of the singers provides an easily sympathetic intensity that evokes an understanding about how attached the music is to tradition. You can assume that for every major change in their culture, there is a song to go with it that is passed down from one generation to the next.

Gatlif has managed to utilize an old, almost boring, plot structure to respectfully portray a culture much overlooked. He obviously loved his subject and the way in which it was filmed provides a contagious appreciation for a people often misunderstood.



Vengo

Facts and Figures

Run time: 90 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 4th October 2000

Box Office Worldwide: $125 thousand

Distributed by: Cowboy Booking International

Production compaines: Nikkatsu, Canal+

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 62%
Fresh: 23 Rotten: 14

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Caco, as Diego, as Primo Alejandro (as Antonio Pérez Dechent)

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