Mar 13, 2008
CARAMELO E CHOCOLATE
There's an interesting coincidence during my current stay in Caracas. Last Monday, TVES, the government network that stands on the spoils of the closing of RCTV, premiered its first telenovela Caramelo e Chocolate (Candy and Chocolate or Chocolate candybar). Written by Carlos Pérez, a writer who handles well humor and colloquial language, the telenovela's topic is racism in Venezuela. Ironically, RCTV had already tackled this issue in telenovela Negra Consentida without much success.
In Venezuela racism and class-ism are linked in such a way that they aren't easily differentiated. Both are evident in popular culture, daily conversations, jokes and in the disdainful expressions used in colloquial language when referring to people of darker skin. Racism in Venezuela also hides behind the permanent comparison with the manifestations of racism in the U.S.
For all these reasons I was very interested in watching the first episode of Caramelo e Chocolate, which was preceded by positive press critiques However, I must acknowledge that I couldn't see much of the telenovela's thesis in its first episode. Only a small glimpse in the first scene. The episode had more content related to the topic of esoteric beliefs than to racism. The writing did not surprise me in a positive way. It has very short scenes that don't allow the spectator to really "feel." (In telenovelas, the spectacle of emotions, feeling is very important). Transitions between scenes are underdeveloped, and the direction is a bit on and off.
Production also needs some fine tuning. There's a lot of background noise that needs to be cleaned up in post-production, and the music is not incidental but continuous; therefore, it doesn't add to the story.
There weren't any performances that captured my imagination. Most are average or frankly deficient. I will give it more time, but I must admit I'm quite disappointed.