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BERT CARDULLO In Search of Lost Time S OCIOLOGISTS OF THE FUTURE will have been greatly helped in at least one way by moviemakers of our own day, for one sector of contempo- rary society has been thoroughly fixed on celluloid: adolescence. Quite apart from documentaries, fiction films in recent years have dealt with troubled adolescents around the world. France, Belgium, England, Scotland, China, Brazil, and Mexico are only some of the venues, besides of course our own sunny shores. Moreover, the number of such pictures continues to grow—hence more material for social historians to come. Even the best of them, however—Buñuel’s Los Olvidados (1950) and Pasolini’s Accattone (1961)—only increase one’s sense of helplessness at the heartless cruelty yet heartbreaking humanity of the young, particularly those who are poor as well. What can any of us do to hasten the solution of the social problems depicted in these movies? What can any of us do to quicken the maturity of these young people? Not much, it has long since become clear; but there is an artistic solution to the problem of yet again portraying the disenfranchised, disaffected young on screen, and that is to present them through the eyes, or from the perspective, of an older person who is simultaneously open to all experience yet removed from it. This is the solution Barbet Schroeder adopts in Our Lady of the Assassins , 1 adapted from a 1994 autobiographical novel ( La Virgen de los sicarios ) by the Colombian author Fernando Vallejo. Schroeder, now in his mid-sixties, knows Colombia well, since he spent a portion of his early youth there. Moreover, among the fifteen films that he has directed, one can see this artist laying the groundwork for Our Lady of the Assassins , his best work to date in part because it is his most personal at the same time as it includes themes that Schroeder has visited before and since. This, after all, is the man who made Reversal of Fortune (1990), Barfly (1987), the Polanski-inspired thriller Single White Female (1992), and the Leopold-and-Loeb-like Murder by Numbers (2002)—in addition to a drug-fueled orgiastic meditation by the name of The Valley (1972) and Maîtresse (1976), in which Gérard Depardieu falls in love with a dominatrix. Our Lady of the Assassins , for its part, is unique, even for Schroeder: not only extremely violent and sexually candid, but also hauntingly contemplative and stubbornly religious. A well-to-do novelist in his 1 Our Lady of the Assassins . Paramount Home Entertainment. $19.99 (DVD).
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BERT CARDULLO 289 fifties (whose money, ironically, is inherited from a Colombian drug lord, who had been married to this writer’s late sister) named Fernando returns to his native city of Medellín after a thirty-year absence. All his family members are dead, he is world-weary, and he has returned to his birthplace to die, he says. During the three decades Fernando has been gone, however, his picturesque Medellín has curdled into the cocaine
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