Esmerelda

on September 18, 1998 by Kristan Ginther
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   While a whimsical tale with charm to spare, "Esmeralda Comes by Night" is plagued by a number of pacing and plot problems which cause the premise to fall short of its promise.
   Esmeralda (Maria Rojo) is a nurse who is happily married to five very different husbands. As she is about to take the plunge with husband number six, she is arrested for bigamy. While she is being interrogated, her wondrous aura spellbinds the chief inspector, Victor (Claudio Obregon), and everyone in the police station. Her feminine wiles spill out onto the streets of Mexico City where she becomes a feminist pinup girl, while her husbands conspire to get her out of jail. Esmeralda is a modern-day siren and every person she touches cannot help but be beguiled.
   The scenes in which Victor and his peers spy on Esmeralda's life and observe her sometimes bizarre but always alluring behavior are innovative and interesting. However, the momentum is thwarted by several overlong and overwhelmingly dull scenes. And the last 10 minutes of "Esmeralda Comes by Night" contradict every idea about commitment and love that the movie had been advocating up to that point.
   Though the entire cast is effective, Rojo deserves special notice for her utterly believable portrayal of Esmeralda as a child-like temptress who is naive about her many enchantments. Also excellent is Pedro Armendariz, who hilariously plays Esmeralda's Italian husband Antonio as half-Mafioso, half-opera singer. "Esmeralda Comes by Night" is a heartfelt production, but more care should have been taken in its execution.    Starring Maria Rojo, Claudio Obregon, Martha Navarro and Tito Vasconcelos. Directed and written by Jaime Umberto Hermosillo. Produced by Carlos Taibo, Salvador de la Fuente and Fernando Camara Sanchez. A Fine Line release. Comedy. Spanish-language; subtitled. Rated R for strong sexuality, nudity and language. Running time: 105 min.
Tags: Maria Rojo, Claudio Obregon, Martha Navarro, Tito Vasconcelos. Directed and written by Jaime Umberto Hermosillo. Produced by Carlos Taibo, Salvador de la Fuente, Fernando Camara Sanchez, Fine Line, Comedy
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