Last night, I watched the Lifetime gangster epic, Cocaine Godmother!
Why Was I Watching It?
You can find the answer in this review’s opening sentence. Cocaine Godmother was a gangster epic that was made for Lifetime! How insane is that!
Add to that, the life of Griselda Blanco has, as of late, become a very popular subject matter. Ever since everyone went crazy over a documentary called Cocaine Cowboys, there have been Griselda films in development. Though Cocaine Godmother may have been the first to premiere, HBO has a film coming out starring Jennifer Lopez as Griselda. There’s also another film in development, one which will star Catalina Sandino Morena as the Godmother. Apparently, 2018 is going to be the year of Griselda.
What Was It About?
The film follows Griselda Blanco (played, as an adult, by Catherine Zeta-Jones), from her youth all the way to her assassination in 2012. Griselda grows up in horrific poverty in Colombia, pimped out by her own mother and committing her first murder when a man refuses to pay her. Griselda tries to escape through a conventional marriage but, when that doesn’t work out, she marries a series of drug smugglers and soon proves herself to be just as ruthless and violent as any of her male rivals. When she’s not snorting cocaine, she’s murdering husbands, mistresses, and even children. It’s tempting to say that Griselda’s only redemption is to be found in the love she feels for her sons and for Carolina (Jenny Pellicer) but, actually, there is no redemption for anyone in this movie. From beginning to end, everyone’s terrible.
Somehow, the entire film worked. You don’t necessarily expect to see an effective and violent gangster film on Lifetime but somehow, Cocaine Godmother pulled it off.
Two things held this film together. One was Catherine Zeta-Jones’s performance as Griselda Blanco. Whether she was casually snorting cocaine on an airplane, explaining why children have to be killed along with their parents, or gunning down one of her husbands, Zeta-Jones was never less than compelling.
Secondly, there was Guillermo Navarro’s direction, which never allowed the pace to slacken. For a two hour and thirty minute film, Cocaine Godmother was mercifully free of slow spots. Considering that he was working under the restraints of television, Navarro did a great job bringing Girselda’s story to life.
What Did Not Work?
I was a little worried when I first heard the narrator. Narrators are usually a sign of doom in a Lifetime movie and there were a few times when the narration got a bit too obvious. That said, it was only a minor issue. For the most part, the entire film worked.
“Oh my God! Just like me!” Moments
Griselda may have been a terrible person but she had great tastes in movies. For instance, we both appreciate The Godfather films. That said, unlike Griselda, I probably wouldn’t name my son after Michael Corleone. I’d be more likely to name him after Tom Hagan because Tom made all the money but he never had to shoot anyone.
Don’t get high on your own supply.