Review by Sean Boelman
Directed by Cristina Costantini and Kareem Tabsch, Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado is a fascinating new documentary that uses a relatively niche subject to explore universal ideas. Thanks to a compelling story and a flamboyant sense of style, this documentary seems destined to be an absolute smash hit.
The film tells the story of Walter Mercado, once the world’s most famous astrologer, as he attempts to make a return after having chosen to disappear from the spotlight. Although there are a lot of documentaries that explore a public figure’s relationship with the spotlight, this one stands out as particularly intriguing because of its subject’s larger-than-life personality.
Mercado is a truly legendary character, and his life is beyond fascinating. It’s likely that most viewers of the movie will already have some familiarity with his career and why he was such a success, but the film offers a surprisingly in-depth look at his life in the form of interviews that were conducted with him before his passing in 2019.
The movie will almost certainly have an emotional impact for anyone who is a fan of its subject, but the film also does a good job of developing him even for those who are unfamiliar with his work. In addition to interviews with Mercado and people who were close to him, the movie features interviews with fans who express the cultural importance of Mercado and his work.
One of the more high-profile interviewees in the film is Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton) who does an excellent job of expressing the importance that Mercado had to Latino families across the world. It’s touching to hear how the story of a cultural icon has impacted one of the biggest stars of today.
The movie is also very entertaining as a whole. A large portion of what makes the film so much fun to watch is Mercado’s personality which still shines through, years after he stepped down from the spotlight. More than anything, he’s a great performer, and perform for the camera he does, delivering an experience that is just as magical for viewers as it would have been thirty years ago.
On a technical level, Costantini and Tabsch have made a very strong biography. Seamlessly blending interviews with archive footage, the movie offers a concise and definitive look at its subject’s life. The way in which the interviews are shot is also very aesthetically appealing, with a look that pops just as much as the subject’s wardrobe.
Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado is a documentary about a niche topic made in a mainstream way, and the result is ineffably watchable. It’s definitely a lot more emotional than expected, even if you don’t have the same connection with the story.
Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado hits Netflix on July 8.