THE STORY – Puerto Rican astrologer and psychic Walter Mercado discusses his life, career and post-fame seclusion.
THE CAST – Walter Mercado, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Eugenio Derbez & Raul de Molina
THE TEAM – Cristina Costantini & Kareem Tabsch (Directors/Writers)
THE RUNNING TIME – 96 Minutes
By Ricardo Gallegos
When I was a little kid growing up in Mexico City, I used to watch Walter Mercado on TV. With his sensational cape, the shining jewels in his clothes, and extravagant objects surrounding him, he looked like a sorcerer superhero. And then, there was his charm. When he started talking, the world stopped, and it was mandatory to hear all about your horoscope. His oratory was captivating, and his body language, hypnotizing. Most importantly, he always preached a message of love. Your day wasn’t the same without listening to his farewell signature catchphrase: “Les deseo mucha paz, pero sobre todo, mucho, mucho amor” (I wish you peace, but mostly, lots, and lots of love). The vibe and positivity of this Latinx icon is captured by directors Cristina Costantini and Kareem Tabsch in the Netflix documentary “Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado.”
Nostalgia plays an important role in “Mucho Mucho Amor.” The documentary does a great job explaining the experience of watching Walter Mercado: what he represented for us as a viewer, as well as his cultural impact in the Latinx community. In order to understand all of this, Costantini and Tabsch first explore Mercados’ career: his childhood, his start as an actor and dancer, the success of his first astrological show, his popularity boom, and eventually, the legal incident that caused his disappearance from TV. I had no idea what happened to him, but this documentary answered my questions.
The film has interviews with his family, close friends, journalists, activists, Latinx celebrities (like Lin-Manuel Miranda), and Walter himself. It was delightful to see him at home, feeding his dog, putting on makeup, and trying to answer every question with a smile. His energy is contagious, and his joy kept me grinning throughout the film. The directors also used beautiful animations to illustrate moments and transition between important stages in Walter’s life; these graphics exquisitely capture the vibe of “Mucho Mucho Amor.”
It was nice to know that Mercado wasn’t only a TV gimmick. The man clearly carried a loving life, always trying to bring hope and faith to viewers and loved ones equally. Don’t expect to find contradictory testimonies. “Mucho Mucho Amor” enforces Mercado as an inspiring and optimistic icon of Latino culture. His meeting with a very excited Lin-Manuel Miranda is moving, and his ideas on religion are fascinating; if more people could follow his teaching, we would live in a better world.
Walter Mercado not only gave astrological predictions. Living under his own rules, and highlighting his androgynous appearance, Mercado broke down barriers and thrived in a predominantly homophobic and catholic culture. The documentary briefly explores his influence on the LGBTQ community, but never goes deeper. I definitely would like to have known more about this because Mercado was a role model for an entire generation in search of their identity.
This film never tries to question Walter and his stories. It doesn’t try to uncover some dark secret or get into any sort of controversy. This is a total celebration of his character. A part of me would’ve liked to know more about his sexuality, childhood, and the trial around the use of his name, but if I’m being honest…in this case, I preferred to be swept away by his glamour.
“Mucho Mucho Amor” made me happy, and in more than one occasion filled my eyes with tears. Even though nostalgia is important, Walter’s wisdom, his splendid glance, and his joyful voice are a combination that will make you fall in love with this film. And if you never watched him on TV, you will still get a valuable life lesson. His message is exactly what the world needs right now.
Gather your Mamá, Abuela, and Tía because “Mucho Mucho Amor: La Leyenda de Walter Mercado” is a touching celebration of a Latinx icon and a beacon of light to those whose ideas of love and positivity will live forever.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – It’s a wonderful celebration of a Latinx icon with a relevant message of love and positivity. An easy, joyful watch.
THE BAD – Only scratches the surface of important themes.
THE OSCARS – None