A Wild Ride That Is Gorgeous & Inventive
Jan 27, 2023
Home Movie Reviews Leonor Will Never Die Review: A Wild Ride That Is Gorgeous & Inventive
To say Leonor Will Never Die is making bold choices would be an understatement. The film is gorgeous, and the script is easily one of the year’s best.
Leonor Will Never Die is a singular film experience. Writer-director Martika Ramirez Escobar has outdone herself in every way. The sheer amount of filmmaking efforts put forth is surreal in the best way. This is a movie that is doing everything and doing it well. Sheila Francisco is an absolute gem and the film lives and dies on her effortless lead performance. To say Leonor Will Never Die is making bold choices would be an understatement. One never sees the comedy coming, the film is gorgeous, and the script is easily one of the year’s best.
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Leonor Reyes (Francisco) is a celebrated filmmaker, but well past her prime. Though she still gets recognized by strangers and is known in her community, it has been years since she’s actually written a script. Unfortunately, Leonor is more concerned with rewatching her old movies than she is with paying her electric bill, and it is driving a wedge between her and her son Rudy (Bong Cabrera). Unbeknownst to Rudy, his mother is back to writing at the behest of an old friend. That friend is a ghost in the form of her dead son, Ronwaldo (Anthony Falcon). Nonetheless, Leonor is back at her typewriter with new life. She gets up after writing a climactic scene for her new project, “The Return Of The Kwago” and goes for a smoke break. Before she can take her first drag, however, a TV set falls on her head out of nowhere, and Leonor wakes up as a character inside the world she’s created.
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Escobar’s dramedy is as methodical as it is inventive. The magic of Leonor Will Never Die is amplified when it starts delving into its own subconscious. As Leonor enters the world of her own creation, answers to how her son died and what that strain did to her family are answered within the narrative of the low-budget action flick she now calls home. Escobar has honed a much more digestible form of exposition that audiences will appreciate. Alongside avatars for her family, Leonor also interacts with a character based on herself in one of the film’s best scenes. However, the layers don’t stop there. The film makes another jarring cut in a scene where Rudy is reading from his mother’s script. It’s not 100 percent clear, but it appears the film is constantly cutting to Bong Cabrera’s audition for the role of Rudy in Leonor Will Never Die.
The comedy in Leonor Will Never Die is outrageous and all over the place and perfect. The film has a lot of ground to cover, including an entire subplot in both the hospital where Leonor is recovering and on the news where a man was impregnated by another man. In the same hospital, and out of nowhere, the film becomes a mockumentary for one scene and interviews everyone from doctors to ghosts. But the most consistent joke of Leonor Will Never Die is the interaction between the film’s main character writing scenes for her main character. At one point in “The Return Of The Kwago,” a character stops in his tracks as the typing stops, and looks at the screen begging for direction from the screenwriter. The film is never self-serious and is constantly a breath of fresh air. From scene to scene, the plot never gets bogged down nor does it feel like it’s missing anything.
The little flourishes of Leonor Will Never Die are simply divine. Throughout the course of the film’s main storyline and the world of Leonor’s creation, production assistants and photographers literally interrupt the plot. But all the bells and whistles don’t work without Escobar’s vision. Her direction is specific, and her future is bright. Leonor Will Never Die is steeped in homage but unlike any movie audiences have seen before.
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Leonor Will Never Die releases in limited theaters Friday, November 25 before expanding to more theaters December 2. The film is 101 minutes long and is not rated.
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