|GUEROS (director: Alonso Ruiz Palacios; screenwriters: Gibran Portela; cinematographer: Damian Garcia; editors: Yibran Asuad, Ana Garcia; music: Tomas Barreiro; cast: Tenoch Huerta (Sombra), Sebastián Aguirre (Tomás) Ilse Salas (Ana), Leonardo Ortizgris (Santos); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Ramiro Ruiz; Kino Lorber (Catatonia Cine); 2014-Mexico-in Spanish with English subtitles)|
good one, though at times rather grim for a
by Dennis Schwartz
indie movie’s title is Mexican slang for those with
light skin, such as the middle-class protagonists
featured. It's set in 1999, in Mexico City,
when the students rebel against the university.
The black-and-white debut feature of Mexican director Alonso Ruiz Palacios is a good one, though at times rather grim for a playful comedy. It's co-written by the director and Gibran Portela.
It opens in the coastal city of Vera Cruz, as the
light-skinned 13-year-old Tomás (Sebastián
Aguirre) has dropped a water balloon from his rooftop
onto the head of a passing stranger. His
dark-skinned mom thereby sends the troubled kid
to Mexico City to live with his more mature university
student older brother Sombra (Tenoch Huerta). Sombra
is a withdrawn scholar, who refuses to aid his fellow
students in their demonstrations against the school
administration. He lives in a filthy
high-rise apartment with his roommate, Santos
Ana (Ilse Salas) is the politically committed to the
student cause radio DJ Tomás has a
futile crush on, as he welcomes the protest
movement with open arms to impress her. These
three are all gueros and are curious about the
legendary (fictional) Bob Dylan-like protest
singer Epigmenio Cruz of the 1960s,
who has mysteriously vanished. His music was soothing
to Tomás as a child.
The melodrama turns into a road movie, as during the
student strike the foursome of Ana, the roommates and
the brothers, drive aimlessly around at a leisurely
pace hoping to track down the reclusive legend. In
their search, the group attends a pool party for the
wealthy that references La Dolce Vita, and it also
awkwardly but somewhat interestingly goes Godardian
on us by eschewing story in favor of turning it
into a bizarre character study in the style of a
free-wheeling French New Wave film.
The film, with a healthy dose of love for the past
youth movements, is uneven, but when it works we see a
promising career ahead for Alonso Ruiz
Palacios if he can put things together more
cohesively and still has the nerve to follow his gut
feelings of taking chances to go against convention.
REVIEWED ON 1/9/2016 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ