Escobar: A Messed-up Father
The peculiar approach of this film is to present Escobar through the eyes of Nick, building up a fascination that is extended from the character of Nick to the spectator.
Escobar: Paradise Lost is Andrea Di Stefano‘s debut behind the camera, where he takes a close look at Escobar’s figure through the eyes of a young Canadian surfer.
It’s the late 80’s and Nick (Josh Hutcherson) is a young Canadian guy who has moved to Colombia with his brother and found a spot on the beach to settle down. All they want is to enjoy the marvellous seaside and surf the ocean. Everything seems perfect when Nick meets Maria (Claudia Traisac) and falls in love with her, until she introduces him to her wealthy and powerful uncle Pablo (Benicio Del Toro)… Pablo Escobar.
Marked by a couple of narrative naiveties, the film presents interesting peculiarities in the filmmaking process ‒ for example, the scenes are concluded, ending in a fade-out, as though they could stand by themselves.
Di Stefano chooses to start this story in 1991, when Escobar has already settled his surrender to the government and is about to give himself up to the authorities. This is a fact of public knowledge, which connects to the viewer’s direct knowledge, upon which Nick’s fictional story is inserted, and starts from this event through the use of a flashback.
Escobar’s charming paternal messed-up figure
Nick’s story is engaging – one starts empathising with him from the very beginning – but it’s Escobar’s charisma that constitutes the fulcrum of this drama.
Benicio Del Toro’s performance is just one of several cinematic versions of the King of Cocaine.
During the last years, many films and TV shows have revolved around Escobar: he appears in Blow (2001), impersonated by Cliff Curtis, in El Patron Del Mal (2012), and in the acclaimed Netflix series Narcos (2015), starring Wagner Moura. And it’s not over yet. Two more movies will be released in 2017, Escobar by Leòn de Aranoa, with Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, and El Patron, in which John Leguizamo will act as Escobar.
The peculiar approach of this film is to present Escobar through the eyes of Nick, building up a fascination that is extended from the character of Nick to the spectator. Think about the big poster with his face on or Escobar talking to an adoring crowd. However, unlike the spectator, Nick is clueless about the nature of Escobar’s traffics and, even when he finds out about it, he can’t help but to be drawn to him.
Part of the reason for this lays in the way Escobar is portrayed in his first appearances. Nick sees him amongst his family members ‒ playing in the pool with his children or taking a family picture ‒ and he soon becomes one of them. As the film goes on, Escobar gains fatherly characteristics that are also explicitly expressed.
Escobar’s figure as a father to Nick is amplified and extended as he becomes a father to his entire nation, who loved him unconditionally. A love Pablo wasn’t going to return to any of his sons.