Review: Daniel Andres Werner’s ‘Amor Bandido’

Amor Bandido Review -- 2021 Amor Bandido Review Movie Film

Vague Visages’ Amor Bandido review contains minor spoilers. Daniel Andres Werner’s 2021 movie stars Romina Ricci, Renato Quattordio and Mónica Gonzaga. Check out the VV home page for more film reviews, along with cast/character summaries, streaming guides and complete soundtrack song listings.


Daniel Andres Werner’s feature debut Amor Bandido begins with a bated breath, like a gasp caught in your throat. And it delights in leaving it there, suspended in tension. A teenage boy runs out of a secluded farmhouse into an icy dawn. Just as he finds shelter behind a wide tree trunk, matters abruptly cut to seemingly a few days prior, the same teen sat in his spacious room, anxiously awaiting a text from a woman who hasn’t responded to his repeated declarations of lust and excitement. It’s a perfect beginning for an erotic thriller.

Winking at the best of 80s and 90s erotic thrillers, Amor Bandido — which Werner co-wrote with Diego Avalos — is shrewdly paced, heartbreakingly performed and cunning in its political awareness. But most importantly, it’s the kind of fun that feels verboten, inciting a lascivious thrill that makes the viewer feel culpable. For this reason, Amor Bandido does a mighty justice to its genre.

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Amor Bandido Review -- 2021 Amor Bandido Review Movie Film

Renato Quattordio plays the naif protagonist Joan, a quiet and pensive 16-year-old boy whose home life is cold. Joan is the anchor of Werner’s whirling tale. His father is an apparently wealthy and powerful man, very stern and strict, and his mother is a dissatisfied wreck. As Amor Bandido begins, viewers learn that Joan’s parents fight a lot, and that the kid is fed up with it. From the very start, Werner and Avalos flex their astute writing muscles as they sparingly establish the tense background from which Joan, tired of his parents’ bullshit and under immense pressure from his powerful father, seeks solace. Amor Bandido follows the protagonist’s day — he takes a cab to a private school, where it’s revealed that he’s having a secret affair with his teacher, Luciana (Romina Ricci), a more sultry and commanding iteration of Joan’s absent mother.

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As school lets out for the long Easter weekend, Joan convinces Luciana to flee with him to her family home in a secluded village. The teacher reluctantly agrees. This is when matters shift gears and Amor Bandido sheds restraint, in so many ways, moving headlong into old school erotic thriller territory. Alone in the farmhouse, the teen boy and adult woman have a lot of sex, and the camera moves around them with scorching care. Just as Joan becomes accustomed to his new rustic lifestyle, Werner amps up the thrills even more with the appearance of a wounded man (Rafael Ferro) who Luciana claims is her brother. As the teacher’s words and actions contradict Joan’s expectations, Amor Bandido unabashedly hurls the sweet protagonist into a fight for survival.

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Amor Bandido Review -- 2021 Amor Bandido Review Movie Film

At 80 minutes, Amor Bandido will keep viewers enraptured. Werner’s debut is a masterclass in how a story can be told effectively and tersely. The director never belabors a single point, taking the viewer’s interest and intelligence for granted. So much of Amor Bandido’s ability to enrapture and thrill stems from crafty scene settings and its adroit and nimble pacing. The film constantly and consistently thrusts the viewer into scenes at the perfect point of rupture, which adds to the rushing ambience and sense of urgency. As Joan and Luciana hungrily grab each other in Amor Bandido, one can’t help but watch in an abashed, breathless, sometimes indignant and ultimately passionate sort of way, a la Basic Instinct (1992), or the beautiful frames of Dream Lover (1993). Werner has clearly done his homework.

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The performances in Amor Bandido are pitch perfect. As the naive but growing Joan, Quattordio is heartbreaking while showcasing his character’s position as a boy trying on an older man’s clothes. And as the nefarious femme fatale Luciana, Ricci is beguiling. With a purse of her lips or a glisten in her eyes, she flicks from warm towards Joan to secretly conniving and volatile. Amid the rush of the film’s thrills and action, Werner affords the male protagonist quiet moments as if to catch his breath, along with allowing the boy to exhibit unbridled fear and sadness. These moments serve to endear viewers to the young man, and Quattordio makes the most of quiet scenes. When Luciana breaks Joan’s heart, the protagonist rushes off into a room, falls to the floor and weeps from a pain that might as well be physical. Joan clutches his chest, as if he’s left with a hole there instead of a heart. With a determined commitment to perspective, Amor Bandido leaves viewers on the edge of their seats.

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Amor Bandido Review -- 2021 Amor Bandido Review Movie Film

What truly marks Amor Bandido as an achievement is its self-awareness. The best erotic thrillers make searing commentaries about class and power dynamics, both with relation to gender and politics; they delicately interrogate power and how it is volleyed through sex. In Amor Bandido, Werner never neglects to show Joan’s unique class status. The boy’s uniform is pristine, and he takes a cab to school. When the protagonist does venture into the city, he seems to feel out of place among the varied, colorful hustle that surrounds him.

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Amor Bandido, through Luciana and its commitment to Joan’s point of view, ups the ante on the achievements of previous genre films by complicating ideas of power and adding elements of age to the equation, all the while allowing the male protagonist to remain not just human, but the child that he is. Werner asks viewers to question ideas of safety and security through Joan’s complex situation as a teen from a wealthy family, and through Luciana’s adult position as a schoolteacher who lives in a shabby apartment. Amor Bandido is a stunning achievement that points to Werner’s exciting talent.

Alisha Mughal (@alishamgl) is a critic and journalist based in Toronto, Ontario. She writes reviews and analytical essays over at Film Daze. Her work has appeared in Catapult, Exclaim! Magazine and THIS Magazine. 

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