Pantaleón y las visitadoras (1999) from Tuna

Tuna's comments in white: 

Pantaleón y las visitadoras was made in Peru, primarily with Peruvian money, had a mostly Peruvian cast and crew, and was nominated for a Goya for best foreign film in the Spanish language.

There is a problem in Peru with unrest among troops stationed in the jungle, and a high incidence of sexual assault upon local women. The army comes up with a solution, and assigns straight-arrow, married, conservative Captain Pantaleón Pantoja to go under cover and put their plan in place. The plan is rather simple: the Army will run an unofficial cadre of hookers. The women will be circulated among the military bases on a regular rotation schedule. Each soldier who uses the service has the cost deducted from his pay, half to the girls, half for operating expenses. Captain Pantoja is little like Candide in that he is able to overcome his own extremely conservative beliefs in order to follow his orders efficiently. He throws himself into the task, and has soon recruited a former madam to interface with the girls, brought five on board for the test case, and pulled off a a major success from the very beginning. He invents a whole new vocabulary for his reports. The girls are "visitors" and each encounter is a "rendering." He plans carefully with research and computer analysis, and determines that each visitor can handle up to 20 renderings each day, and starts to staff up for the job ahead.

Life is not all roses, however. His wife is suspicious of his hours, a local shock DJ is sniffing around the project, and one of the girls (Angie Cepeda) is doing her best to seduce him. She was increasingly hard to resist. Just to add to his challenges and opportunities, his wife becomes pregnant.

Critical response was very strange. The few US reviews thought it was an unfunny comedy, with one exception. One reviewer admitted that it had nudity from lovely women, sex, some very funny moments, and wonderful locations and photography, but said it lasted way too long. It has mainly been released in Spanish-speaking countries, but is now available on a very nicely done DVD with subtitles. This film doesn't spend all of its time in any one pigeon hole, and has plenty of interesting minor characters to add even more color.


Angie Cepeda, a native of Columbia and a sultry beauty, shows breasts, buns, and a hint of bush in several scenes. Tatiana Astengo does a great full frontal while applying for a job as a visitor, and another woman shows her breasts and buns during the interview process.

Scoop's notes in yellow:

This is actually the second time that the 1973 novel by Mario Vargas Llosa has been made into a movie. Shortly after he write his book about the Army's presence in the remote jungle portion of Peru, Llosa decided to make it into a movie. Although he had never directed before (and has not directed since), he decided that he personally would be the helmsman for this one. Since the film was highly critical of the Peruvian society and Army, he made the film in the Dominican Republic. He tried to maintain the complexity and integrity of his novel, without regard to commercial viability. As you might well imagine, the project was a disaster, and the stench from it was so bad that it would be three decades before anyone else would attempt a film from Llosa's novel.

The new version, freely adapted from the novel in order to make a commercial and completely contemporary film, is the most successful Peruvuan film in history. Truthfully, that isn't saying much other than "the film achieved some international distribution". It probably grossed less than a million dollars world-wide, but it received some exposure in many European countries, including such unlikely places as Norway and Switzerland, and that's a big deal for Peruvian cinema.

The Critics Vote

  • It won the Goya (Spanish Academy Award) for the best foreign film in Spanish.

The People Vote ...

  • Although it is the most successful Peruvian film in history, the grosses are miniscule in comparison to international hits. It did best in Spain, but even there it failed to gross as much as a half million dollars.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C+. If you don't find subtitles too daunting to enjoy a film, you might want to rent this one.

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