No matter how much writer-director
That's because it seems as if Montoya hasn't recalibrated his work's florid, crafty dialogue or its arch rhythms of speech and performance to fit the inherent pacing and more up-close-and-personal nature of film. (To wit, the actors, strong as they are, too often feel like they're "acting.")
The result is an uncomfortable hybrid that raises the question: Should Montoya have simply shot and cut together several great performances of his provocative play and given movie audiences the most authentic version of his commanding, stylized vision?
Either way, there's a vital story at work here. It involves a pair of East L.A.-bred twin brothers — ambitious state senator Gil (
As presented by Montoya, there's a near-mythic quality to this cautionary tale, and particularly to the characters of Water and Power. In fact, from the poetic, grandiose narration spoken by Norte/Sur (
Then there's the kingly, gray-tressed "fixer" Gil visits to bargain for Gabe's life. As played in outsized fashion by veteran actor Clancy Brown, he's a superbly conceived creation — for the stage. On camera, this ruthless powerbroker comes off as more caricature than character, his foot-wash request more over-the-top icky than cleverly symbolic.
An accomplished group of actors — including Robert Beltran,
Still, "Water & Power" remains a quintessential L.A. story that is worth seeing for what it has to say, if not necessarily for how it says it.
'Water & Power'
No MPAA rating
Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes