Latest posts by Alexander P. Garza (see all)
- Review: Little Rooster’s Egg-cellent Adventure (Un Gallo Con Muchos Huevos) - October 30, 2015
- Review: Behavior (Conducta) - June 17, 2015
- Lorís Simón Salum and the Literally Short Film Festival - June 12, 2015
Tenoch Huerta plays the lead character, a poet and drifter who suffers from anxiety attacks, nicknamed Sombra because of his dark skin. Sebastián Aguirre plays Tomás, Sombra’s younger brother who is “Güero” or light skinned. Ilse Salas plays Sombra’s love interest, a social activist and revolutionary named Ana. Leonardo Ortizgris portrays the level headed friend, Santos. Tomás is sent to live with his brother, Sombra, near UNAM in Mexico City. After hearing that the Mexican Rock singer who influenced their now deceased father is dying, they embark on a quest to find him. A seemingly simple story line results in a journey filled with aesthetically pleasing cinematography and skillful use of sound. From imagined feathers falling from the roof of a car to the sounds coming through the headphones of a squeaky 90s Walkman, the use of these elements come together to tell us the story of two brothers who discover themselves through this adventure.
Islas’ acting really stood out. I didn’t even recognize her at first. I had recently watched Cantinflas, and had a preconception of what she might look like in Güeros, but was pleasantly surprised to see her take on the militant yet free-spirited character of Ana. Tenoch Huerta did a fine job in his role as Sombra. The connection between Tomás and Sombra were realistic and relatable. Leonardo Ortizgris was very impressive, and provided a fun sidekick for Sombra that was enjoyable to watch on the screen. In the film, Ana decides to join Sombra along in their journey to find the rock singer, and she begins to embrace the head-in-the-clouds sense of earth-wandering that Sombra exudes. Toward the end of the film, it was heartbreaking and inspiring to see Ana get out of the car to join the protest march she had helped organize. She runs into the crowd, out of Sombra’s life, and reenters her destiny as if she had never even diverged, as if it had only been a dream.
There were certain elements of the film that I found majestic and memorable such as the previously mentioned scene with feathers and the use of sound as if we were listening in with the character through the headphones. However, there were a few moments where I was just left with wondering why. Why zoom in and focus on the cup of coffee? Why show them sitting around and showing nothing happening? You could say it was too artistic, that Ruizpalacios was just using the language of film in a delicate careful manner. I am not someone who believes that the audience should have to work too hard in order to understand what the director is trying to tell us. I don’t feel like I should be trying to decide whether this cup of coffee has any hidden meaning behind it or if it’s just the Director’s way of having us focus in on the words that were being spoken during the shot. The director points out to us that he recognizes the pretentiousness of it all though, by having Sombra criticizing national filmmakers that shoot in black and white and call it art.
Despite these overly artistic scenes, I enjoyed this film overall, and was so glad I got to see it at the Museum of Fine Arts – Houston. It was pleasant, majestic, sweet, and well-crafted. It should be getting a wider U.S. release this month, so look for it.
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