Produced by and co-starring Jennifer Lopez, this messy, maudlin portrait of the decline and decline of Puerto Rico-born salsa star Héctor Lavoe wavers uncertainly between cable channel biopic and socially concerned drug movie. From the ’60s on, singer Lavoe was one of the premier Latin musical alchemists fusing jazz, samba and merengue into the ‘gumbo sauce’ of salsa. J Lo’s husband Marc Anthony makes for a sympathetic and touchingly innocent falling angel, but Lopez’s booty-shakin’ Bronx bitch of a wife, who introduces him to the weed, seriously over-eggs her performance.
The musical performances – including three elaborate, big-band set-pieces – should provide some compensation, but even these are chopped and chequered by director Leon Ichaso’s over-fondness for annoying cut-aways, wipe-pans and flash edits. The movie as a whole never flows – broken up as it is with MTV credits and black-and-white flashbacks – and therefore never delivers either insight or any proper emotional engagement. Shame.