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“La Pecera” And Puertorican Movies: A Film Review

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPR chapter.

Cinematography has always upheld very high standards internationally. In Puerto Rico, it’s quite a small industry, with very little monetary support or funds. This, of course, is due to the fact that Puerto Rico is a relatively small area of the marginalized Caribbean. Nonetheless, Puerto Rico has so much to offer artistically. Latin American and Caribbean cinematography is very good and has particularly culturally realistic productions. Not all  projects are masterpieces or worthy of international recognition, but La Pecera is surely one that deserves immense applause. Some recent films, especially this one released in 2023, show that the Puerto Rican movie scene is coming back.

Puerto Rico has historically almost never benefited from a bigger audience in film. Perhaps during the first half of the 20th Century, when the island’s productions were still considered in the foreign film category, more interest was generated. La Pecera is a prime example of how there is much more enthusiasm toward the art of great films with deep storytelling and acting that moves people, even if you don’t speak Spanish. The main character, Noelia, played by Isel Rodríguez, is diagnosed with stage-four cancer and decides to not receive treatment. This decision drives her to revisit her home in Vieques, and live out her life there. Since Vieques is not located in the mainland of Puerto Rico and has had a historic struggle against the US Navy intervention, Noelia’s fight is both personal and political. Cancer has historically been associated with military wreckage. 

Why has this film in itself and its production been so successful on an international level? Without a doubt, the cinematography takes the spectators mind through a whole journey of the beach from afar and within it. The shots of corrals, old bombs, and the general wide shots of the landscapes really made the story what it is. The theme and how it is depicted, could best be described as an overview of a raw, authentic, impactful, and generally tragic reality of a cancer patient living their last days in a polluted environment. Not only did Isel Rodríguez do such a perfectly heartbreaking portrayal of their character, at her most vulnerable moment in life, a life that ends in sickness, but the other actors also contributed immensely. Magali Carrasquillo, who plays the part of the mother, is so sublime, just like the flow of water in her role. All of the cast: Modesto Lacén, Maximiliano Rivas, Carola García, and Anamín Santiago, really made the movie superb.

Another statement this movie establishes without a doubt is that women were the main characters (it passes the bechdel test for sure): the film was directed by a woman, the main character was interpreted and written by women, all while being a fully funded and successfully produced puertorican movie. It is also important to emphasize that, for college students, especially women, it is an incredibly enjoyable movie. In the same spirit, there are so many other recent puertorican movies I would recommend, such as Picando Alante, Daniel Santos, Receta No Incluída, and Broche de Oro. All of them represent what Edgardo Rodríguez Julia called “the new puertorican cinema.”

I think that the future of puertorican cinema is going to be full of support from our community, if this is the standard. Moreover, latin films should be considered of a high cultural value, and I hope there will be more recognition toward these artists. Reality is a great film does not need to have a high budget or be highly streamed. Films like La Pecera show that good artistry comes from the quality of the story, how you choose to execute those wide landscape shots, and to choose when the intensity will be at its highest even though there are no words said. This movie is one I would recommend fully, especially to future artists. But don’t only take my word for it, the film was recently nominated for one of the most prestigious awards in Europe, Los Premios Goya. It is the first puertorican feature film nominated in these awards. Don’t miss the opportunity to feel the impact of the viequense sea, its history, and Noelia’s story.

María Isabel is an undergraduate student at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras campus and a contributor to the Her Campus UPR chapter magazine. Her topics of interest range from entertainment to midnight thoughts that keep you up at night. She is majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities faculty with a specific interest in Theater and Language. She is academically eager to keep taking French classes, and learn more on the relationship between theater, movement, and performing arts. Another discipline they would major in, if they could, is in Art History and Literature. Most of their work experience is related to theater as a member of the cast and production team in the Theatre committee at her university. Maria is constantly looking for new opportunities to participate in theater productions and art related projects. In her free time she relaxes by reading, watching Netflix and Disney Plus movies and series, and looking for new experiences to share with her friends. When she’s not listening to podcasts on her drive to the university, she is binge watching her favorite sitcom,New Girl, and she feels that most times she is a mix of Jess and Winston, and when stressed a raging Schmidt.