By Jennifer Carcamo, 17, HighTechHigh—Los Angeles
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El Cantante, starring Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez, tells the tragic life story of Hector Lavoe, the 1960s era Latin American music sensation who took New York City by storm with salsa music. Although Lavoe’s story was very inspirational and Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez were great in their roles, this movie disappointed me.

I felt like it was an endless cycle of Lavoe getting high, doing concerts, getting high, doing something stupid, and getting high again. The music was really good and I felt the urge to jump out of my seat to dance every time he sang, but then the music would end and another scene of Lavoe buying drugs would appear. The more his popularity and wealth seemed to increase, the more Lavoe seemed to lose himself as a person as he continually experimented and overdosed on a variety of drugs. The movie also highlights his volatile yet loving relationship with Puchi (Jennifer Lopez), a Puerto Rican girl born and raised in New York who he marries after two years. Lavoe cheated on her often and they fought a lot, yet she stayed with him. In 1988, he was diagnosed with HIV and eventually died of AIDS in 1993.

Ultimately, the movie sends the message that the only time Lavoe ever shone as a star was on the stage. The story should have focused on how Lavoe, who started singing when he lived in Puerto Rico, introduced salsa music to white American society. But once the drugs were introduced the music in the story was pushed aside.

Lavoe was an inspiration who connected with a lot of Puerto Rican New Yorkers who were trying to make it in the United States. He also served as a role model for other salsa musicians.

The movie also introduces where the term “salsa” came from. When the man who would become his producer heard Lavoe’s music he said: “You mix mambo, merengue, jazz, and what do you get? Salsa.”

I found myself getting restless and itchy during the middle of the movie. This brought me to realize that this is exactly how Lavoe’s life was: He was only truly inspirational when he was in the spotlight singing his songs.