Adapted from Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits, the film features actor Vincent Gallo as Jeremy Irons' bastard son sired through rape. When the boy first shows up with a demand from his mother that his paternity be recognized, his father dismisses him - a huge mistake. There's a quiet menace about the young man that's fully realized later as he exacts revenge on his father's family, especially his young half-sister Blanca, played by Winona Ryder. This is a character without empathy. Fadil also reminds me of Heath's Ledger's turn as the Joker in The Dark Knight. With little clear information on his background, the character ramps up the violence from the start of the film and doesn't care how much damage is left in his wake. I went for the same lack of empathy and powerful brutality in the portrayal of Fadil. Like the Joker, his cruelty doesn't derive from any specific cause but he's hell-bent on getting what he wants. As with Vincent Gallo's character, Fadil serves as a reminder of what can happen when a youthful, wayward personality isn't corrected.
I've often received the feedback from critique groups that every villain should have a cause, just like the protagonist. While Fadil does thwart Esperanza and Miriam's immediate goal of freedom, he isn't the true antagonist of this story - find out who is when this title's released next year. Instead, Fadil drives a wedge between Esperanza and Miriam, by highlighting the differences in their treatment during captivity. While he has a limited goal, the effect of it ensures devastating consequences. Fadil is the kind of villain who does the unexpected simply because he can and in doing so, his actions precipitate other conflicts.
From Esperanza's first meeting with Fadil, she knew she should be afraid. He introduces a capacity for violence with this scene:
Find out how these Esperanza and Esperanza attempt to survive their captivity among the Moors in Sultana: Two Sisters. Next time, meet the character Juan Manuel Gomero, who knows more about Esperanza's heritage than she may suspect.