Telenovelas have always been about the romance, love, quirky flirtations, betrayals, suspense and melodramatic scenes. The latest telenovela, A Passion for Revenge, which hit Telemundo channels on DStv and GOtv recently, opens with a tragic scene that seems to suggest the drama will go against the grain. But we know that the true telenovela spirit will play out sooner than later.
The drama opens with the discovery of the body of a young girl floating in a river. It later turns out to be Alma Gallardo, who was pregnant for Ignacio del Junco, head of a very powerful family in the country.
The telenovela employs flashbacks to show the series of events that led to Alma’s death. Ignacio, a wealthy rancher with three beautiful grown up daughters, Sofía, Andrea and Irina, has fallen out of love with his cold, hard, snobbish and overbearing wife, Cayetana. He finds love with Alma, his employee, and seeks to end his marriage with Cayetana. Ignacio’s love affair with Alma must remain hidden though pending the divorce. In the meantime, Alma becomes pregnant for Ignacio.
Meanwhile, Ignacio discovers, through a private investigator he employed, that his son in-law, the hedonistic, licentious, treacherous and malevolent Leonardo Montalvo, is deliberately sabotaging his ranch to make it become insolvent and therefore force him to sell it to a rival businessman.
He confronts Leonardo with the finding and orders him off his ranch. Knowing his departure from the ranch will jeopardise his devious plan to rip off the Del Junco family, Leonardo arranged to have Ignacio assassinated.
So, when Alma suddenly shows up at the ranch shortly after Ignacio’s death claiming to be expecting the dead man’s baby, Leonardo sees her as a loose end that if not tightened could ruin his carefully worked plan. The solution? He murders her and makes it look like suicide.
His action sets the tone for the drama as Alma’s brothers, Arturo, Samuel, and Flavio, believe the family of Ignacio Del Junco is to blame for her death and thus, thirst for vengeance. The brothers disguise their identity by taking the surname Rey and going to work as labourers at the Del Junco horse ranch to get closer to their enemy, Ignacio’s widow, Cayetana.
When three handsome striplings work in constant contact with two equally attractive single girls and a third with a lousy marriage, there is perhaps only one outcome. You could have betted that a romantic relationship will develop among some, if not all, of them. It didn’t take long for that to happen though.
Irina, the bold, fun-loving, carefree youngest sister, triggered the romance chain. She falls for Samuel and pesters him for a relationship. It gets complicated when Andrea, the shy, cold and bossy middle sister, secretly becomes attracted to Samuel too. Then the big ones, Arturo and Sofia, start to make out. The story line is very engaging and highlights the fractious relationships between the haves and have-nots in societies.
It is interesting watching how the Gallardo brothers try to deny and resist their budding affection for the Del Junco sisters, as they try to remain focused on their mission on the ranch. But when love strikes, self-control becomes difficult. When it becomes clear they couldn’t resist the girls any longer, they come up with the laughable idea that they will deliberately stoke the girls’ passion for them and then break their hearts, as part of the grand revenge scheme.
To further complicate matters is the opportunist Leonardo, Sofia’s scheming husband, and an arms smuggler, Emilio Valverde, both of whom are determined to bring down the Del Junco family. What exactly is Leonardo’s grouse with the Del Juncos? Is there a story behind his determination to ruin the family or is it simply a case of excessive greed?
His marriage to the eldest Del Junco daughter is clearly a ruse; he has no feelings for Sofia. By killing Ignacio, the only man at the Del Junco ranch who could stand up to him, Leonardo may have thought the coast was clear for him to have his evil ways. But then the Gallardo brothers arrived and Cayetana’s crippled father, Don Felipe Belmonte, also became more suspicious and apprehensive of Leonardo, making his plans a little harder to achieve.
We have seen some very interesting conflicts already, which will likely escalate, and we can expect far more interesting ones. Leonardo has managed to throw a wedge between Cayetana and her father and another one between her and her daughters. Soledad, the clingy, distrustful maid to the Del Juncos who brought in the Gallardo brothers, is against any romance between the brothers and the Del Junco sisters and is determined to scuttle it.
Samuel’s growing reputation as a ladies’ man will lead to other complications. Patricia Rubio, Beatriz ‘La Nena’ Alcázar, Andrea and Irina all want a relationship with him. Leonardo is gradually exploiting Cayetana’s obvious admiration for him as a son-in-law. They will most definitely become lovers.
What makes A Passion for Revenge so exciting are the story line and characterisation. The themes on love, romance, infidelity, exploitation, betrayal, vengeance, greed, wickedness and evil are easily relatable and plausible enough, though in true telenovela fashion these societal ills are sometimes overdramatised to the point of incredulity.
You sometimes ask yourself if someone as cold and hard as Cayetana could be so gullible and easily manipulated by Leonardo or how Arturo, whom Cayetana considers very rude and confrontational, continues to keep his job. Or even more implausible is the fact that only the three brothers, who we know are just tradesmen/labourers, are engaged to construct a building for Leonardo and Sofia, which Cayetana insists must be topnotch.
Some of the best well-loved actors in telenovela world featured in A Passion for Revenge. If you have watched Where is Elisa, then Sonya Smith’s (Cayetana’s) stiff and cold persona in this drama will probably shock you.
Kimberly Dos Ramos (Irina) is quite familiar with her spoilt, fun-seeking, capricious role, which she has pulled off previously in The Face of Destiny and other telenovelas.
Aarón Díaz’s (Arturo’s) acting has been solid and his handsome suave personality continues to give female viewers the thrills. Fabián Ríos (Leonardo) is no stranger to evil roles – remember Elena’s Ghost and/or My Heart Beats for Lola? He is a natural.