"Sudor Amargo" is a moderately effective story about labor, love, jealousy and murder among the female workers and male managers in a failing Puerto Rico fish processing plant.
By JOSHUA TANZER
Part soap opera, part murder mystery, part labor-rights drama, "Sudor Amargo" is a homegrown Puerto Rican film about the women who work in a doomed fish-packing plant called, whether with verisimilitude or unintentional humor, "Ernie Tuna."
Ernie Tuna's line workers are all women, while its managers are all men, as are its beefy security guards and broodingly intellectual custodians. The women are the focus of the film one with cancer, one whose son steals her money to buy heroine, one pregnant and one who's fooling around with the boss.|
As the movie starts, the factory gates are closed at the beginning of the shift, and an Anglo visitor from headquarters is telling the managers that the money-losing plant is going to be phased out and relocated to a cheaper site in South America. Word gets around pretty quickly, and soon there are layoffs, fear and a plunge in morale.
Next morning, the manager is found dead in his office, and it's uncertain whether it was his wife who did it, the mistress Magda, the jealous custodian or some other disgruntled employee.
"Sudor Amargo" is not a very artful film. Camera work is plain and unimaginative, and dialogue is sometimes stilted or overdramatic. It tries to tell several kinds of stories at once, none of them altogether satisfactorily. But the film's heart is in the right place. A drama about the effects of international economics on the working class in Puerto Rico is a whorthwhile subject, and even if it's a bit unreal, this film is a heartfelt portrayal of a partially real situation in the filmmaker's experience.
|MAY 28, 2003|
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