In Forgotten Well, an author recalls his childhood in Santo Domingo, a coastal town on the eastern coast of the Dominican Republic, where he and other children were tortured and killed by anti-Communist guerillas during the 1950 1959 era. Aptly named for its secret detention and mass killing center, Forgotten Well describes the horrors of that era in colorful detail. This book reminds us that although our past may be dark, it does not have to be forgotten. After all, it only serves to make us more aware of what might still be lurking around the corners.
As preteens, I was already experiencing the creeping sensation of growing up, but Forgotten Well offers more than nostalgia. The story draws a parallel between young Francisco and his imprisonment at 15 for the crime of belonging to the wrong political party. While in prison, Francisco's reading addiction takes him away from the simple pleasures of home and into darker places he would later regret. When he is released, he finds himself in Santo Domingo, an area where people are constantly at odds with one another, especially because of their different ethnic backgrounds. Disenchanted by the violence, Francisco sneaks back into his old neighborhood and starts to live again. Only one problem is that he is caught between two loyalties: his desire to be a part of the new, politically correct society and his duty to his family.
Although it was based on real events, Forgotten Well is not without humor. The storyline, although grim, was a bit over the top, but comedian Lou Peguero plays the role of a true victim, one who has reason to hope and a secret to live by in his own time and place. As an example, one of the novel's main characters, Carlos, finds help from a white-collar hustler who understands the importance of family. Another example is when a corrupt police officer tries to recruit Francisco, but he refuses and in so doing, infects his own force with corruption.
This movie has many classic elements of a mystery movie. In addition to the story, it also has brilliant acting performances from both Peguero and Chavez. One thing this movie did well is the incorporation of well-placed music. During some scenes, for instance, the movie played audio of police scanners and other loud noises to heighten the suspense and to create the atmosphere that some of these scenes would require.
Watching this movie, I found myself looking forward to each scene. I found myself reading each word as if thinking about who would be saying it and what they were saying to each other. It was very disconcerting to see how much information a writer was able to pack into a small scene. And once I got over the shock value of seeing the consequences of what was occurring, it was easy to forget that it was all fiction. The point is, Don't Worry, Be Happy is a light-hearted comedy with a lot of laughs.
Fans of this genre will enjoy this movie, as will people who like psychological thrillers and other genres that rely heavily on intrigue and hidden clues. There is nothing subtle about Don't Worry, Be Happy. It takes advantage of the medium to tell a story that isn't always told in this way. This is a film that's worth seeing just for the fun of watching two people bicker over a puzzle. Trust me; you won't be able to look at film anymore without feeling a sense of excitement about the next film in the series.