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El Cantante

(2007) ** R
116 min. Picturehouse. Director: Leon Ichaso. Cast: Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, Federico Castelluccio, Romi Dias, Vincent Laresca.
Vanity, thy name is J.Lo. This take on the rise and fall of salsa legend Héctor Lavoe ostensibly puts singing star Marc Anthony center stage, but the drama is disproportionately tilted toward Anthony's wife, producer, and co-star: Jennifer Lopez. That Lopez plays Lavoe's controversial wife Nilda "Puchi" Lavoe—and that Anthony is learning the acting craft on the job—means Héctor Lavoe is doomed to remain a remote figure in his own movie. The result has the feel of a music video or pop-star fashion spread more than a full-fledged narrative, a problem exacerbated by writer-director Leon Ichaso's choppy, time-hopping structure. Anthony does all of his own singing here (and does it well), but presumably the film will drive a wider audience to Lavoe's soulful vocals. That's a good thing, but as a movie, El Cantante never sings.
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