Cannibal: A Love Story

| October 20, 2014

One may have certain expectations when going into a movie entitled Cannibal: A Love Story.  They may anticipate a psychological thriller about a psychopath finding his humanity through a need for basic human connection.  They might expect a tongue-in-cheek farce with a lot of subtextual winks to the audience and Deschanel levels of quirkiness.  I certainly wasn’t expecting the somber slice of life drama that unfolded here.

The story is about Carlos (Antonio De la Torre), a Spanish tailor who spends his evening hunting people for food.  Despite his best efforts, his upstairs neighbor Alexandra (Olimpia Melinte) inserts herself into his life and he’s forced to butcher her.  Soon, Alexandra’s sister Nina (also played by Melinte) starts coming around to inquire after her missing sister and quickly befriends her killer downstairs.

I was with this movie right from the start.  The use of the camera to emphasize Carlos’ point of view while he’s hunting, the use of light and darkness, and the virtual absence of music were all really effective for me.  I also liked that no time is spent trying to get inside Carlos’ head and justify to the audience why he kills and eats people.  Carlos is a cannibal the way you might be a fisherman, or a tax attorney.  People are no more meaningful to him than a pack of frozen chicken at the grocery store.

If I were to make a character study of Carlos, I’d probably argue that he kills people for two reasons.  First, he seems to despise any food other than human flesh.  No idea how he figured this out, but they make a point of telling us that he doesn’t eat anything else.  Second, he seems to kill people to avoid having to make any connection with them.  Most of the time he hunts for food and just keeps himself locked away, only going to work at his quiet shop across the street, but when someone tries to get to know him on a personal level, he feels the need to remove them permanently from his life rather than complicate it.  This idea makes his relationship with Nina all the more interesting and keeps the audience guessing as to what his intentions with her are.

At first, the cannibal angle felt thrown in.  It seemed like the filmmakers had an interesting idea for a dramatic romance about a shy guy, and in an effort to make him more unique and interesting, they made him a cannibal.  This bothered me during the first act of the film, but once Alexandra is killed that aspect of the story comes into play quickly, but it doesn’t feel too much like a device.

There’s a very small cast of characters here, and the performers all do a great job of conveying their characters complexities without a ton of dialogue.  It’s an impressive piece, although you will feel its length at times.  I wouldn’t say it ever gets boring, but I would have liked to see a good 10 minutes cut out just to tighten up the pace.

Special features include cast and crew biographies, and a great little short film entitled “Ogre.  Available on DVD from Film Movement on October 21

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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