“The Padre,” a neo-noir starring Nick Nolte, Tim Roth, Luis Guzmán and newcomer Valeria Henriquez, is the story of a trio of opportunists all headed to the same place, all searching for something different.
Henriquez is Lena, a young determined Columbian girl trying to find a way to get to Minnesota. “First God takes her parents, “ says a friend, “and then a family in Minnesota takes her sister. Like they bought her on the internet.” Lena sees the Padre (Roth), a white man with some money, as her ticket to the United States and being reunited with her sister. She becomes his apprentice, a toughie with an attitude and an aptitude for grifting. Hot on their heels are retired U.S. Marshall Nemes (Nick Nolte) and local cop Gaspar (Guzmán). For Nemes the hunt is as much personal as it is professional. “He needs to pay. Then I die happy. I lashed my hate to a spear I aimed at his heart,” he grumbles.
“The Padre” ambles its way through the lives of the main players, slowly closing the gap between the hunters and the hunted. The three above the title stars, Nolte, Roth and Guzmán, deliver in familiar roles—Nolte is once again the grizzled face of law enforcement, Roth is another skeevy character while Guzmán plays a convincing second fiddle—but it is Henriquez who steals the show. She is at once gritty and vulnerable, a girl born of poverty who has had to survive by her wits. Henriquez pulls it off and emerges as the film’s most interesting character.
Shot in Colombia, “The Padre” is beautiful looking, a sun-dappled noir that pops with colour. Director Jonathan Sobol has an eye for the locations, it’s just too bad the story isn’t as colourful as the setting.