x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Manolete is another disappointing choice by Adrien Brody

Surprisingly for a story about bullfighting and love, there is a distinct lack of passion and drama.

Manolete
Director: Menno Meyjes
Starring: Adrien Brody, Penélope Cruz
**

Brody has never really managed to capitalise on becoming the youngest actor to win the Best Actor Oscar nod for The Pianist. The list of strange choices he has made since that win include The Brothers Bloom, Giallo, Predators and Wrecked.

Manolete is yet another stain on his CV. Brody plays the world-famous matador Manuel Rodrígues Sánchez, better known as Manolete, who rose to prominence after the Spanish Civil War and is considered by many to be the greatest bullfighter in history. The similarity in looks between Brody and Manolete is highlighted by some archival footage.

The use of archive and other similar devices demonstrates how the debut director Meyjes, best known for his scripts for The Color Purple, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and, most recently, Black Gold, is clearly not afraid to work in clichés.

Told in a series of flashbacks, the romance details the bullfighter's love affair with the singer and actress Lupe Sino. Cruz is also perfectly cast. It's easy to see why the matador would fall head over heels for this divorcee but little is made of her political background and her character lacks fire.

Despite some good work from the costume designers, cinematographer and production design team, the film is undone by turgid dialogue, a supporting cast full of stereotypes and languid pacing. Surprisingly, for a story about bullfighting and love, there is a distinct lack of passion and drama.