On April 2, Venevisión premiered its new telenovela, Torrente, written by Benilde Alvarez and Neida Padilla. The press wrote extensively about the first episode (El Universal, El Nacional, Ultimas Noticias, El Mundo), highlighting the beauty and proliferation of exterior shots in Venezuela's Gran Sabana region, and the central plot of surrogate motherhood.
Torrente is a change from the style of telenovelas broadcast in Venevisión. Some press reports have defined it as a return to the rosa style (see, for example, El Nacional). Personally, I believe that we're facing an involution of the text (script+incidental music), that contrasts with the undeniable technical and directorial advances that allow the extraordinary display of natural beauty that we see in Torrente:
and the mise-en-scene of sequences like the airplane accident depicted in the following videos (10:30 in the first video and the beginning seconds of the second video):
- The flat depiction of important characters (and their stereotypical interpretation). For instance, villain Cayo Gabaldón, interpreted by actor Félix Loreto.
- The inclusion of predictable and trite dialogues.
- The backwardness of certain dialogues: "I'm an incomplete woman who was born with a useless womb", "We, women, need to have children. We were born for that", says the protagonist, Ana Julia. Those words construct a woman that, even though she has a stable and loving relationship, professional success and beauty, has a microscopic self-esteem exclusively based on her ability to bear children. It's an outdated depiction of women that denies our struggle for an identity that goes beyond being "so and so's mom" or "the wife of..."
- There are problems in the connection among scenes and in the handling of the mini-time elipses. The consequence is an irregular rhythm in the storytelling, and sequences that don't make sense. The source of the problem could be in the edition process. But, I think it's in the script's outline. Both the director and editor are trying to minimize this issue, without much success so far.
- The incidental music consists of excessively dramatic scores, utilized only to exaggerate the melodrama. The result reeks of telenovelas from decades past.
I must say, however, that this isn't a good moment for the Venezuelan telenovela industry. With the forced transformation of RCTV into RCTV Internacional, and the changes in priorities of Venevisión's top management (priority to the international market over the local one), we're beginning to see telenovelas whose best attributes lie on the technical aspects of production (much like the telenovelas produced in Miami). I think this is a loss for the genre because telenovelas are losing their ability to connect with the public not only through the love story, but also through well designed characters and situations that we both recognize and recognize ourselves in since they're ingredients or our dreams and realities.