Friday, April 13, 2018

It's Romeo & Juliet time again in Blademil Grullon's uber-violent A MIAMI LOVE STORY

Yes, it's those Montagues and Capulets, at war once more, this time as Haitians-vs-Dominicans in the new kill-and-thrill-fest masquerading under the title of A MIAMI LOVE STORY.

Co-written (with Max J. Gabriel and Marco Molinet) and directed by Blademil Grullon, this is one of those movies in which the love story begins after about 30 minutes (the entire film lasts only 78) and is prefaced by violence, torture, murder and rape, most of which continues throughout, except for the minor time devoted to our would-be Romeo and his Juliet.

As co-writer, co-editor and director, Mr. Grullon (shown at left) does offer some flashy, fast camerawork along the way, and there is also a nice musical score via Wyclif Jean. Otherwise, though, the movie is a total head-scratcher, beginning to end -- from its first scene, in which a lone man running for his life down a country road is chased by an automobile. Instead of getting off that road and into the overgrown fields on either side (where a car might have trouble following him), he stays right on that road, bringing the bad guys home with him and into the lap of his waiting wife (whom they rape) and young son. What a smart move!

Then movie never recovers from this nonsense but we do move ahead around 20 years to present-day Miami, where we're immediately steeped in street violence and gang warfare between the Haitians and Dominicans, broken up (but barely) by the budding romance between a young Dominican kid (Miguel Fuego Duran, above) who wants to leave gang life to become an artist, and the college-student girl, played by Lexi Delarosa, below, left (whose brother, of course, runs the opposing Haitian gang).

While much of the dialog sounds street-wise and dumb-ugly, it is so burdened with exposition that you may wonder if all these character were born yesterday: That's how much needs to be explained to them all. The whole dueling gangs plot is so secondhand and tired that there is nary a surprise or  fresh moment to be seen nor heard. There are, however, the necessary best friend (below) and sex scene (two photos below). Neither adds much to the proceedings.

As for our hero Sandy's great artwork, it looks like the next step up for him might be painting Elvis on velvet, and when sister asks her gang-lord brother what he really does for a living, you can only wonder where the hell she has been all their life. The film's funniest line comes as one of the villains suddenly notes, "It's the same déjà vu all over again!" Yes, sweetie: That's what déjà vu is.

Much more interested in giving us violence than in offering up love, the finale -- in which past and present come together -- provides enough corpses to people a couple of Hamlets but with only about 1/1000th of the intelligence necessary. And the final voice-over explaining how very important love is and how it can conquer all should have you -- considering what you've just had to sit through -- grinding your teeth to the point where you can spit them out.

Distributed by TRICOAST, A Miami Love Story, in English and Haitian (with English subtitles) and running 78 minutes, arrives on VOD this coming Monday, April 16, with a DVD release scheduled for July. 

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