Rating: (3 out of 5) Sunday, 10/16/2011, 11:00 AM Feature presentation, $12 at Navy Memorial Heritage Center Spanish with English subtitles
WHEN YOU’RE NOT rooting for either side, it’s tough to care who wins, which is the central problem with My Last Round.
In a small town in Chile, the quiet Hugo (Héctor Morales) and boxer Octavio (Roberto Farías) fall in love, but when their lives start to crumble – for Hugo it’s the loss of his job, for Octavio it’s the ability to box – they leave for Santiago in the hopes of starting anew. Once there, many undercurrents tug the two apart, from Hugo’s flirtatious co-worker to Octavio’s longing to climb back into the ring despite doctor’s orders.
Unfortunately, because the foundation of their relationship is never cemented on screen, it’s tough to really pull for the pair. In fact, it’s more touching to see the relationship build between Hugo and the boss’s daughter than it is to see Hugo and Octavio struggle to survive.
This lack of investment is not the fault of the actors, who are both terrific. In fact, it’s their stirring performances that will stick with you. Morales is sweet and vulnerable, coming across as emotionally lost yet completely earnest. Opposite him as the imposing former boxer, Farías ensures there is enough nuance in his performance that it’s evident Octavio’s possessive nature is partly fueled by the loss of a career that defined him for so long.
Instead, much of the film’s shortcoming rests on a decision made by writer and director Julio Jorquera to hold a key scene until the end of the movie. Rather than show it during the couple’s courtship, it’s revealed as a flashback. This brief scene is the foundation so desperately needed at the beginning of the story. In an attempt to make it a tug-at-the-heartstrings moment, Jorquera undercuts the entire film’s emotional arc. By the time it’s finally shared, it’s too late. The film’s outcome is readily apparent and unavoidable, so there’s nothing left to do but endure the knocks and punches that land, even if they carry only a fraction of their potential.
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