American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
I do not, alas, remember every detail of those steamy Isabel Sarli melodramas from Argentina that used to play in Times Square and provide such a diversion from the New York Film Festival. Having now seen the new Argentinian-Mexican-Peruvian-American film "La Mujer de mi Hermano" ("My Brother's Wife"), I suspect I know the reason: There were no details.
Sarli, a former Miss Argentina, was married to her director, Armando Bo, who cast her in films never to be forgotten, such as "Thunder Among the Leaves," "Positions of Love," "The Hot Days," "Naked Temptation," "Tropical Ecstasy," "Fuego" and "Fever." In these films, the plot was entirely disposable, except as a device to propel Miss Sarli on an insatiable quest not so much for sex as for admiration. She clearly thought she was the sexiest woman alive, and that in itself made her erotic, even in a scene where she attempted suicide by jumping off some rocks and into a pride of sea lions.
I have not thought about Isabel Sarli in years, not since reviewing Theo Angelopoulos' "Ulysses' Gaze" (1995), which starred Harvey Keitel as a movie director who returns to his roots in Greece and makes love to lots of women. I quote from my 1997 review: "I was reminded of Armando Bo's anguished 1960s Argentinian soft-core sex films, which starred his wife, Isabel Sarli, whose agony was terrible to behold and could only be slaked in the arms of a man. [Keitel] and the women make love in this movie as if trying to apply unguent inside each other's clothes."
The Sarli role in "La Mujer de Mi Hermano" is filled (and that is the word) by Barbara Mori, a TV Azteca and Telemundo star who provides persuasive reasons why there are ever so many more plunging necklines on the Spanish-language channels than on their chaste Anglo equivalents. If Oprah were on Telemundo, Tom Cruise would have stayed on the couch.