Review: ‘Loving Pablo’, Javier Bardem & Penelope Cruz Chart The Rise And Fall Of Pablo Escobar

Loving Pablo tells the story of Pablo Escobar’s (Javier Bardem) rise to power and the collapse of his empire in the 1980s and 90s. The film also centers around Pablo’s relationship with Virginia Vallejo (Penélope Cruz) – a popular journalist. Virginia and Pablo met in 1981 when she visited Pablo and his men for an exclusive interview. At the time Pablo was working on building his network and amassing his wealth. At one point, Pablo went from owning a few properties to being worth over 2 billion dollars in less than 2 years. Pablo was an integral member of the community and was a man of the people. The work he was doing for the community provided him leniency and a veil for all the drug activity that was occurring behind the scenes. At their first encounter, Pablo takes Virginia to visit an area of the county where he is funding the building of homes for homeless children and families. This charitable work is the centerpiece for the story that Virginia reports on Pablo, casting him in a glowing light. The community is so thankful for his deeds that children all over are being named Pablo in his honor. Unfortunately for Pablo Escobar – this crystal clean image he was trying to portray would be short lived.

Pablo and Virginia fall hard for each other almost immediately with Pablo being infatuated by her looks and wit and Virginia immediately deciding that she didn’t care how Pablo made his money, just how he decided to use it. This relationship is occurring while Pablo is married with children, and his wife is aware of it – although she doesn’t approve. Pablo showers Virginia with gifts, trips, and a look at a whole new life. However, when the empire starts to crumble, so does their relationship and both of their lives. Pablo turns into a madman, setting off bombs and taking the lives of anyone that crossed him as he loses the power and control he so desperately needs. His actions begin to tear Columbia apart, but he would be happy to see the country burn if he can’t control it.

Loving Pablo gives the audience an interesting look into keys years of the life of Pablo Escobar. There were multiple times throughout the film where I simply could not believe how Pablo lived and the power he had. Even in jail he was able to have guards do whatever he wanted including opening his cell and letting him walk free while he was living in leisure. Pablo had a large zoo that housed elephants and other exotic pets for him to admire, was meeting with the heads of countries and putting together business deals as the head of the cartel on a regular basis, and was teaching his children about drugs at a very young age. The movie even goes as far to show how the cartel would close off parts of US highways to land planes carrying drugs on them undetected. By the time police and government officials realized what was happening, the drugs would already be long gone. Loving Pablo is written and directed by Fernando León de Aranoa and is based off Virginia Vallejo’s book describing her time with Pablo. Aranoa realizes that the strength of the film is the talents of his main two stars and tries to highlight them as much as possible. Bardem and Cruz both give strong performances throughout and complement each other well. Much of the content of the film has been explored before, but Bardem and Cruz manage to give it a new twist to keep the audience entertained. Loving Pablo isn’t anything revolutionary, but it is a decent biopic that is worth a rainy-day matinee.

Rating: 3 out of 5