Review: "Dance of the Forty-One"
This film from Mexico looks gorgeous and is well acted, but ultimately the style outweighs the substance.
Dance of the Forty One aims to convey a message about the consequences of oppression by contrasting the tense, ultimately abusive relationship between Ignacio and Amada with the tender affair between Ignacio and Evaristo. All three actors do a commendable job embodying this tension as well as their characters' simmering frustration with their respectively inhibited love stories.
But the production feels much more concerned with depicting Ignacio's clandestine life, reveling in images of the men at the club performing for each other, than in developing its main characters more fully.
As Eva, Emiliano Zurita is particularly underused, and we never really get to know his character. Amada transforms from blushing bride to tortured goat lady to heartless tormentor in record time, and her husband ends a broken man.
It's a morality tale dressed in sumptuous period costume and candle-lit rooms (surely there's symbolism in the film's use of light and shadows), but the viewer -- especially outside Mexico, where the historical event is not well-known -- will be left wishing the script had matched the complexity of the production design.
Read the full review at Common Sense Media.