Loving Pablo: An Escobar's film told from his lover's point of view

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After Escobar: The Boss of Evil and Narcos, the film by Fernando León de Aranoa, Loving Pablo, is now released in Colombia

Loving Pablo: An Escobar's film told from the lover point of view

There is nothing new in the fact of approaching the figure of Pablo Escobar as audiovisual material. Therefore, based on the book by Virginia Vallejo Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar, Aranoa's film not only manages to portray the context of drug trafficking in Colombia but also approaches the image of the capo from a more feminine perspective, that of his lover.

Leer en español: Loving Pablo: La película de Escobar contada desde la mirada de la amante

The film is narrated from the moment when Vallejo (played by Penelope Cruz), falls in love with the drug lord (played by Javier Bardem) until the day when at the hands of the DEA and the National Army, Escobar is killed in an attempt to escape.

With all the implications that the fact of getting involved with the mafia can bring, the film not only gives an account of the eccentricities Vallejo agreed to by ambition. It also shows the repercussions that the journalist had to face in her professional and personal life, due to the romance she had with the most wanted man in Colombia.

"Although the film is cut because you cannot include all the facts mentioned in the book, it somehow shows the relationship that she had with the capo and gives a completely different look to the traditional one, where what the writers do is to know, from newspapers and news, a reality to build a script. On the other hand, her perspective is key because it shows us how she saw Escobar and what she felt for this character, who on the one hand was a gallant in front of her, but at the same time was a monster," said Joaquín Lepeley, film critic, in a video for his own YouTube channel.

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Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar

From this perspective, the film is narrated through the voice of Cruz, who in an English with a Colombian accent and jargon in Spanish, recalls different episodes that are key to understanding the story.

The above makes it possible to elucidate a humble and sympathetic Pablo, who by the end of the film is transformed, allowing the spectator to find that cruel, murderous and shrewd Escobar who flees from the authorities thanks to the complicity of the underworld and the corruption of a town led by easy money. But that language has not been to the liking of all criticism.

In what language does drug trafficking speak?

"Something tragic happens from the minute one, not in the plot: in the vision of the director. What it gains in execution it loses in credibility due to an enormously frustrating artistic decision: the film, Spanish to the core, is spoken in English", Maximiliano Torres affirmed at the time for the newspaper Milenio. 

Therefore, in response to criticism, in an interview for the newspaper Marca of Spain Penelope Cruz said that the decision to shoot the tape in English is due to purely economic reasons. "Javier is a co-producer and I saw the titanic struggle to get the film made in Spanish." That fight was in vain because without a doubt this film has had the pretension to catch more the attention of the English-speaking market than of the Latino one.

However, apart from the idiomatic strategy, the film also recreates events with scenes loaded with action, which allow the viewer to be aware of details and even myths created around Escobar. According to the newspaper La Jornada, the film "has the subtlety of a machine gun burst, León de Aranoa has chosen to serve us a guilty pleasure, given the yellow character of his approach".

That's why beastly scenes that include the torture of animals and human beings contrasted with opulence, can be seen as sensationalist. However, it is important to clarify that these are also crucial to dismiss the figure of a Pablo seen as a hero.

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The memories that it brings

"The story of Pablo Escobar is so hard for Colombians that it permeated them all in some way. Then it is to remember those tragic moments that we suffer in Colombia from other eyes. In this sense, the film does not deal with a superfluous story told by a diva that seeks to look good, because in reality she was simply involved sentimentally, but not related to the actions of her boyfriend," said Lepeley. 

For now, although it is difficult to know if the film is going to be a hit or not, there have been many criticisms. However, although distributors make bets for films that can be successful, the truth is that in the Colombian case, some audiences may be exhausted of the same theme.

Thus, we only have to wait to see the reactions of the spectators. The voice of Virginia Vallejo interpreted faithfully by Penélope Cruz can be a striking element for the public as it was for the Goya Awards and the Platinum Awards, which have nominated her for the performances of her main characters.


LatinAmerican Post | Maria Alejandra Gomez

Translated from "Loving Pablo: La película de Escobar contada desde la perspectiva de la amante"


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