Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Güeros - hop into the back of a car and explore 1999 Mexico City (QFT 20-25 Nov)

Güeros a bold project for new director Alonso Ruiz Palacios and hopefully the first in a line of imaginative feature length productions that throw off the shackles of tradition and expected form.

It’s 1999. Teenage Tomás (Sebastián Aguirre) is too much of a handful for his mother who sends her pale-faced “undercooked” son off to live in Mexico City with an older and darker-skinned brother who is meant to be at college.

There are student protests, but Fede (nicknamed Sombra and played by Tenoch Huerta) is not participating. Instead he’s “on strike from the strike” and hanging out with Santos (Leonardo Ortizgris) in his high-rise concrete apartment with no electricity other than what he steals via a child living in the flat below.

Once they escape their sofa, the trio drive around in a beat up car, but never quite have the speed or energy to escape orbit around their tiny world. Even their quest to find enigmatic folk musician Epigmenio Cruz (said to have influenced Bob Dylan) fails to engender excitement.

Everyone on-screen is disaffected. Purposelessness is everywhere. Even the student protest movement that has taken over the local college spends days arguing with itself over direction.

Student activist and Latin American Studies student Ana (Ilse Salas) adds a female voice to the film when she rekindles her friendship with Sombra and joins the trio. But Ana does little to shake off the all pervasive lethargy. We’re treated to drug-addled hallucinations, panic attacks, fixations with different types of breakfast, stolen carrots, poverty, a trip to the zoo and the recklessness of dropping objects from tall structures on top of unsuspecting passers-by.

The three act, 4:3 ratio black and white film makes up for its low budget by throwing innovation at the sound scape and the creative visual feel of the 106 minute long road trip.

The traffic jams and blocked roads mean that no one in Güeros is going anywhere fast. The film frustratingly drags towards the end, but that’s partly its intention. If the cycle of despair didn’t rub off on the audience, we wouldn’t have properly experienced life in this unfashionable and untouristy region of Mexico City!

You can catch Güeros in the Queen’s Film Theatre between Friday 20 and Wednesday 25 November.

[The film’s title Güeros refers to a slang term for fair-skinned/blond-haired Mexicans.]

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