The Return of Lencho


When its title protagonist isn’t defined by hagiographic narrative contrivance, The Return of Lencho is a semi-thoughtful character study about a politically motivated graffiti artist. Right after Lorenzo “Lencho” Aguilar (Mario Lanz) returns to his native Guatemala from New York City, he’s placed under police surveillance. Along with recurring flashbacks to the car crash that killed Lencho’s father, a muckraking journalist, scenes where mustache-twirling cops survey and then mercilessly beat Lencho patly confirm the rebellious value of Lencho’s art. But Lencho is much more interesting as an idealistic catalyst for change than as an downtrodden martyr. Writer/director Mario Rosales thankfully avoids the classist assumption that Lencho is a graffiti artist because he’s passionate but unfamiliar with the philosophers, economic theorists, and artists that preceded him. Scenes where Lencho admires photos of Diego Rivera’s murals say more about Lencho’s character than any scene in which he defines himself in opposition to one-dimensional oppressors. Sound-bite-friendly dialogue, like when Lencho explains that he uses graffiti to “take art out of the gallery . . . so the people can have access to art” is only so enlightening. As far as agitprop goes, The Return of Lencho is not totally generic, but its subject is mostly undistinguished.