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Ardor 

Wednesday, Jul 15 2015
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Pablo Fendrik’s Ardor may or may not be the first Rainforest Western, but it’s almost certainly the first Rainforest Western with such a dreamy leading man. Indeed, Ardor is essentially George Stevens Shane set in wettest Argentina, with the distractingly handsome Gael García Bernal in the Alan Ladd role. (This is not a criticism of Ardor; it’s a sturdy story template that goes back eons because it works. Plus, the rather feline Bernal is much easier on the eyes than Ladd’s Eisenhower-era manliness.) Vânia (Alicia Braga) and her father, João, (Chico Díaz) live on a tobacco farm, which is attacked by a group of gun-wielding land-grabbers who insist that João sign over the property. Emerging from the wilderness is Kaí (García Bernal), a mysterious drifter of few words who decides to help the family protect themselves, whatever it takes. What it ends up taking is a great deal of violence and pwnage, as the one-with-nature Kaí goes all Rambo on them. (First Blood-style Rambo, to be precise, not Rambo-style Rambo. There’s a difference.) The frequently meditative Ardor also has plenty of lovely cinematography of the rainforest along Argentina’s Paraná River, but let’s face it: Few things are more satisfying than watching men with guns getting their asses handed to them, particularly by someone much prettier than them.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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