El Triunfo

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For her sophomore feature, El Triunfo (aka El Triunfo: The Beat of the Streets), filmmaker Mireia Ros (La Moños, 1997) crafts a somewhat gentle, evocative crime drama -- a period piece -- laden with heavy doses of colorful Spanish rumba music and dance, but undergirded with the ever-present threat of orgiastic violence. The narrative unfolds in the mid-'80s, in a nameless Spanish city overruled by thick ethnic gangs of Arabic and African extraction. A quartet of young friends, Nen (Antonio Fernández Montoya), Palito (Cheto), Tostao (Francisco Conde), and addict Topo (Javier Ambrossi), share an impassioned desire to use their gifts for rumba dancing as a vehicle out of potential crime and destitution, and thus, out of the city proper, despite their understanding -- on some level -- that this dream is impossible. Conflict brews when the lead character, Nen, enters a volatile love triangle with local girl Susi (Marieta Orozco), who is romantically entangled with Mediano (Miquel Sitjar) -- a gangster's son with ties to the local syndicate head, Gandhi (Juan Diego). Nen soon gets in over his head with Mediano; however, because Gandhi carries a yen for Nen's mother, Chata (a pub owner abandoned by her husband years earlier), the woman is able to use that attraction as a leverage point to save her son. The boy then uncovers the disturbing truth about the reason behind his father's absence. Ros concludes the film with an uplifting rumba number performed by much of the cast at a nuptial celebration.


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