The opening titles of this film are a bit misleading. The font is a colorful, comical display played against animation more suitable for the opening of a Pink Panther film. Instead of a comedy, we are presented with a film likely to appeal to a very limited audience. To the film’s credit, it doesn’t abandon the themes and style it intends to portray in an effort to gain more mass appeal.
Antonio is a young man living in Mexico. His dreams are filled with playing music. Like most young ambitious music…ans he longs for the “big time”. When his mother dies, Antonio travels to America where his uncle has painted a picture of a golden field of dreams which turn out to be a rundown taco stand. We’re not really told if the move to America was under legal circumstances or not. Still, Antonio uses every spare moment to capture his musical career. The chance comes in a Latino band competition. The prize is $10,000 and a chance to perform with a big “mystery musician”. Suddenly we have a film with an abundance of clichés. Throw into the mix a mistaken romantic triangle and the stage is complete. It’s no real surprise how any of this turns out.
The cast was actually quite strong; however John Leguizano never really convinces as Antonio. The abundance of lip syncing runs the table from totally convincing to absolutely horrid. The title, we are told by Antonio’s grandfather, means dreams. This is an apt title, as you might find yourself doing a little of that during the film. While not a bad film, it never really captures the imagination. Another unfortunate aspect surrounding the title is how much it hurts to see it placed next to Al Pacino’s Serpico on my DVD shelf.
Sueno is presented in what I assume to be its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. This film takes on a distracting level of grain and shimmer at times. An almost inexplicable and certainly inconsistent snowy image appears at times. A good example of this can be found just 10 minutes into the film. Antonio’s sleepless bed scene is almost unwatchable. At other times the picture is quite clear, presenting us with deep black levels and vibrant colors. Antonio has an obsession with bright red, which provides us with a visual treat of vibrant color in stark contrast to those moments when the film degrades. It is likely a second unit used inferior film stock. In any case this does not seem to me a transfer problem. I suspect these flaws are part of the original print.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is the true bright spot in this otherwise muddled effort. While ambient sounds are not abundant, they are well placed and crystal clear. The important music is faithful to even the best CD release standards. The sound is dynamic, in fact sometimes overly so. The bass overpowers a sultry piece about 45 minutes into the film. A lot of effort to create atmosphere is ruined by bass in overdrive. Dialogue is always clear and up front. You will be at a disadvantage, however, if you can’t speak Spanish.
I believe this film will have greater appeal to fans of Latino music. It’s also not a bad date film or “chick flick”. If you are a fan of this kind of music you might want to brace yourself for the gangsta Latino rap song during the competition. That one hurt my ears, and I don’t even know what they were saying. I did enjoy much of the music a ton, but it just wasn’t enough to hold my interest in the film or its characters. I had the opportunity to view the film a second time. “I turned it down.”
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