DVD region 2. Mr Bongo Films.
as well known as his early surrealist works like Un Chein
Andalou and L’Age D’Or,
or his highly regarded 1960’s and 1970’s classics,
this is one of several more commercial efforts that Luis Bunuel
cranked out at a furious pace during the first half of the Fifties
in Mexico. These films are less frequently seen than his other
work, so all praise to Mr Bongo films for resurrecting both this
The Brute (El Bruto) is a frantic
melodrama that has a lot more depth than any synopsis might suggest.
Pedro Armandariz plays the title character (real name Pedro),
a simple-minded and powerful slaughterhouse worker who is hired
by slum landlord Don Andres to put the frighteners on the tenants
who are refusing to leave the properties that he wants to bulldoze.
Pedro does this rather too well, punching the ringleader
– who is already sick, and who dies as a result of his injuries.
quickly finds himself the target of the other tenants, while also
starting an affair with Paloma (Katy Jurado), the wife of his
employer. But when he meets and falls in love with Mechee (Rosa
Arenas), things become even more complicated, as she is the daughter
of the man he killed. It’s pretty clear that this messy
situation is not going to end well…
This is a splendidly ripe melodrama, with passions running high
among a collection of characters who are pleasingly rounded; Don
Andres is not a one-dimensional villain, while Paloma –
seductive, conniving and arguably the real villain here –
still manages to seem human and, at times, sympathetic. Armandariz
is impressive as the dumb thug who is less a bad guy as simply
someone trying to do the right thing by his boss (who, it’s
hinted, may also be his father), only to see things spiral out
Crisply shot in black and white, El Bruto is
a bleak tale of passion and greed. If you are a Bunuel fan, then
this is a must; if not, this might be a good entry point, being
more immediately accessible than his better-known films.
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