Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar

If you are a fan of movies that evolves around narcotics and drug lords, prepare yourself for a heavy disappointment in the form of the movie: Loving Pablo. The movie is based on Virginia Vallejo’s memoirs: Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar that talks about her long affair with the famous Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.
Virginia was a famous Colombian television anchor — who amid her fame — met Pablo in 1981. To her and many other Columbians, the source of Pablo’s money was a mystery.
Publicly, he was a national hero who invested money in housing projects and other charities aimed at helping the poor. Even upon discovering his involvement with the Medillen cartel, Virginia becomes his mistress.
Throughout the movie, Virginia is the storyteller relating and describing events that took place around her. She’s dazed by the power that Escobar exerts and the money he showers her with. In a particular scene, Pablo asks her to empty her suitcase to fill it up with thousands of Colombian Pesos of drug money. She travels to the US with it and spend it all on shopping (jewellery was her weakness).
But her dreamlike life suddenly turns into a nightmare, when Pablo enters into politics and clashes with the government. It’s a chaotic time in Colombia where drug money is used to assassinate politicians and police forces alike. It gives rise to the Sicarios, a group of youths that are trained to assassinate. In exchange for their lives, their families get monetary compensations post-mortem. The police forces retaliate and the Sicarios are caught. To gain their freedoms back, they have to cooperate with the police against the drug lords.
The other line that the movie shows but doesn’t focus on is the drugs entrance and distribution in the US. There is a funny scene where one of Pablo’s planes lands on a highway in California in broad daylight. His men unload the shipment, running across the lanes without being caught. When Escobar becomes wanted in both territories (US and Colombia), Virginia finds herself in an awkward position. She loses her job due to her association with him. On top of that, she gets life threats from his enemies. This pushes her to collaborate with the Americans in exchange for her safety. Knowing how close Pablo is to his family, she suggests using them as a bait to locate his hiding. The plan succeeds and Escobar gets killed by the police force in 1993.
The movie doesn’t add much to what had been discussed in many TV shows and movies. The best part were the costumes that took me back instantly to the 80s and early 90s.
Although the main actors are Spanish (Penelope Cruz playing Virginia and Javier Bardem being Pablo) the movie is shot entirely in English. It would’ve been more convincing if it was made in Spanish with English subtitles (I watched it in Spanish and it made sense, unlike viewing the English trailer). The fat suit worn by Javier Bardem at the beginning of the movie looked real. But by the end of the movie, it became more like the Nutty Professor’s (the neck prosthetic was awful!). There were many brutal violence scenes that made me wonder about human’s abilities to devise such wickedness.
This contrasted with emotional scenes that tried (but failed) to humanise Escobar, through his infinite love and devotion to his family. Funny enough, the only people that I sympathised with during the movie were Escobar’s family (wife and children). Never with Escobar, nor with Virginia who till the last scene was trying to take advantage of him.
Rasha al Raisi is a certified skills trainer and the author of:
The World According to Bahja. rashabooks@yahoo.com