Thorns of the Soul

This 2002 Paraguayan video resembles the deliriously improbable Mexican soap operas shown on daytime television; the story careens from one unlikely plot twist to another and most shots are artlessly composed, but writer-director-cameraman Enrique Collar deploys the cliches with such abandon that it's hard not to surrender to guilty pleasure. In one of its four story lines, a shy schoolgirl (Katherine Catolino) gets a job at a chic clothing boutique and allows herself to be seduced by her boss (Jose Perez Chavez), a sleazy voyeur. Of course she's not the guileless wallflower she appears to be, and the unabashedly contrived climax attains a level of nearly surreal ritual. In Spanish with subtitles. 115 min.

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