Carlos (Raúl Arévalo) thinks his life is on the verge of perfection: after putting in some serious hard work with his firm in Brussels, he’s about to get promoted to New York, which is where he and wife, eight months pregnant Susan (Melina Matthews), want to live and raise their baby. Carlos is wrong. His life is actually about to go to shit.
His promotion at the American oil company is used as
incentive blackmail to get him to go to a remote African island country to negotiate for one of their engineers, who’s been kidnapped. Carlos lived there briefly years ago, which his boss claims will come in handy, but it actually only complicates matters, because the kidnapper is actually Carlos’ old friend, Calixto (Jimmy Castro). So now Carlos has to tread these murky waters carefully, working the friend angle in order to placate both his company and the island nation’s “democratic” government, all the while rescuing this stupid engineer. He ropes old colleague Alejandra (Candela Peña) and her girlfriend Eva (Fenda Drame) into helping him, who accidentally reveal that Calixto is now married to Carlos’ old flame Ada, and that their son Calixto Jr. is actually Carlos’ son, whom he believed to have been aborted nine years ago. Can someone say soap opera? Things get further tangled when the whole kidnapping plot turns out to be tied to secret documents implicating the oil company in a genocide complicit with none other than the country’s “democratically elected” president. Just try to get out of this alive now, Carlos!
And don’t even try to catch your breath because just when you think the movie’s ended, it’s only about half way through, embarking on a weirdly long and extremely anticlimactic denouement that would have been better left on the cutting room floor. This movie starts to feel like a chore pretty early on; it’s a slog of details and loose ends that often lead to switchbacks and roundabouts and frustrating dead ends. There are at least three different movies vying for attention in Black Beach, which plays like a movie with split personalities, and they don’t exactly play nicely together or make a cohesive whole. Director Esteban Crespo has made a movie about white privilege, a theme that probably needs to be seen but requires a better movie to serve as its vehicle. Carlos is every white colonizer. He’s untouchable, but every Black person near him winds up dead. He sleeps in a palace and drives a Ferrari to the slums; he’s there to rescue another white guy and leave again, no matter what death and destruction may lay in his wake. If this film was better, we’d leave with a sense of just how many hands are dirtied when first world capitalism meets third world need. Unfortunately, Crespo’s film is so convoluted, it’s hard to take away much more than a head scratch and blown expectations.