Men With Guns

on January 27, 1998 by Ed Scheid
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   Like "Lone Star" and "City of Hope," writer/director John Sayles' latest film uses a variety of characters to explore different sides of a conflict. "Men with Guns" takes place in the violent disorder of Central America. Dr. Fuentes (Frederico Luppi, "Cronos") is nearing retirement from a comfortable practice in the city. He considers his greatest "legacy" to be the students he trained to be doctors in the remote and poor areas of his country. He is naïve about the reality of the political situation in his country and unaware of the danger into which he has sent his students. He has not heard from them so he decides to visit them. Instead of his students, he finds poverty, brutality and death. People are being murdered by "men with guns," both the military and guerrillas. Fuentes is joined on his journey by an abandoned boy (Dan Rivera Gonzalez), an army deserter (Damian Delgado), a priest (Damian Alcazar) trying to run away from his past, and a woman (Tania Cruz) who has not spoken since she was raped three years before.
   Luppi and the supporting cast give very affecting performances. After some repetitious sequences at the beginning of the doctor's trip, the film builds to some extremely moving scenes showing the destruction of the native people from all sides. In the characters the doctor meets along the way, Sayles' screenplay effectively shows the range of people affected by the violent turmoil in Latin America.    Starring Frederico Luppi. Directed and written by John Sayles. Produced by R. Paul Miller and Maggie Renzi. A Sony Classics release. Drama. Spanish-language/dialects; subtitled. Rated R for language and some violent images. Running time: 128 min.
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