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Review: Soap-opera melodrama eclipses 'Hidden Moon'

Hokey romanticism and uninspired performances derail José Pepe Bojórquez's L.A.- and Mexico-set 'Hidden Moon.'

December 23, 2012|By Sheri Linden
  • Ana Serradilla and Wes Bentley star in "Hidden Moon."
Ana Serradilla and Wes Bentley star in "Hidden Moon." (La Victoria Films )

"Hidden Moon" is a two-hour romantic drama that feels like two seasons of a telenovela — not because the story, set in Mexico and Los Angeles, is rich with divergent subplots and intertwining characters, but because the attention it pays to every fluttered eyelash, flared nostril and furrowed brow makes for one long haul of an affair.

Devoid of irony or humor, the kind of soapy romanticism that director José Pepe Bojórquez espouses is a tough fit for today's big screen under the best of circumstances. But when it's built on greeting-card hokum (the screenplay is by Bojórquez and David Howard) and turgid performances, the love never blooms.

The movie's Guanajuato and Veracruz locations are its strongest suit but hardly reason enough to seek out "Hidden Moon," which sneaked into theaters Friday without advance screenings for press.

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At the center of the melodrama is a potentially playful twist on the soap opera convention of the Other Woman. Ana Serradilla stars as the beautiful-and-misunderstood Miranda, whose appearance at the funeral of a wealthy SoCal patriarch sends his son Victor (Wes Bentley) south of the border to find her. He tracks down the mysterious trespasser in her hometown of Guanajuato, where she's helping dreamy friend Tobias (Osvaldo de León) run her father's candle-making business (cue platitudes about "the flame").

Until the truth about Miranda's connection to the Brighton clan is revealed, about 40 minutes into the film, Victor and his "gringo lawyer-face" — as one character puts it, in the script's sole incisive line — do a lot of glaring, his interrogatory expression as lacquered as his hair.

The coif and facial muscles relax when, inevitably, he falls for the passionate Latina. Audiences must endure his paean to "your dreams, your smile, your lips, your accent," but will find consolation, however fleeting, when a terrific group of Veracruz musicians takes center stage.

Back on the home front, Victor's black-sheep half-brother (Johnathon Schaech) misbehaves, Linda Gray channels her "Dallas" cred into a cameo as the grieving widow, and Victor's blond fiancé and sisters await word on the unwanted mourner's identity, collectively bringing to mind "Saturday Night Live's" "The Californians."

But "Hidden Moon" plays no favorites when it comes to unintentional laughs; in its failure to set hearts pounding, it is, above all, an equal-opportunity farrago of beautiful people spouting groaners.

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