Gueros : A Film Review


Mexican Comedy, Subtitled, Cast, Tenoch Huerta, Sebastian Aguirre, Ilse Salas, Leonardo Ortizgris.
Duration 109 mins. Cert. 12 but check for details.

Gueros, which was co-produced by Mexican star Gael Garcia Bernal, has picked up a number of top prizes at the film festival circuit over the past year, including the Best Cinematography prize at last year’s (14) New York City Tribeca Film Festival.
Director Alonso Ruizpalacios
Music Epigmenio Cruz
Güeros is Mexican slang for a person with light hair.
Is everything clearer in Black and White?
Ridley Scott’s man on Mars, ‘The Martian‘ has pulled in half a billion $ in revenue so far and it comprises he says the four cornerstones for ‘Movie success’ – Emotion, Action, Humour, Drama.
This film is an antidote to that box office film which is entertaining and outstanding in its breathtaking speed our of imaginative escapism, making no matter how good this film is it instead it sets it’s self up as firstly an attempt at portraying visually the reality of life in Mexico, Mexicans, Mexico City. It has aspirations in other words.
Secondly it produces a narrative of stream of consciousness through a little boy, 16 with an observational trait. His choice of T – shirt carries the slogan in English, ‘don’t look back’ and carries a small cheap 35mm camera which he snaps key token turning points in the story.
It begins mischievously with a bucket of water ballons and the dropping of one on a pram introducing the ex-girlfriend of the boys brother and himself as the water bomber.
In 4:3 format the film maker carries on through standard sequences of running as a means of defining neighborhood and propulsion.
Rather than this it becomes a statis and exposition of a type of, stereo type of film camera work and we see the next part where the disillusioned and uncontrollable water bomber is shipped of to the main city by his mother and so begins an odyssey. It dispels backwardness of a type which hinders Mexico while acclaim it’s realism. It uses the aspirations of the Student politics to attach its narrative drive to and to juxtapose the exterior relentless daily competition with the Americanisation epoch of capitalism.
Solely in taking this on it replicates it. As indeed the filmmaker has with the homage to Francois Truffaut among others.
A scene depicts the bourgeoise at a film festival party, (within it, the environs, racism as the title Gueros implies, is extant as it is implied wherever people have fears formulating them with barriers of one kind or another and it manifests in a small standoff at a leisure/ornamental pool) were the poseurs simultaneously forming sweat beads on their foreheads, or by being coked and liquered, for local culture and filmmaking it stands representative of an elitist set (as representing modernity of the City and it’s values maybe) in an outing for recognition amongst themselves. It propels careers while discarding the semblance of the task of constructing a compelling contemporaneous story reflective of history people and truth telling. The elite decide fashionable vehicles from the TV stations – Ana is deflected by this journey – from commandeering the TV stations as an extension of the Guerrilla radio she has commanded interest through her broadcast passions.
If it is of value then so be it but this film still lacks the strength of the idea held within it. The narrowness of character is possibly to blame. Heroes and anti-heros innocence and stereotyping female roles is a negative slant to the film.
Into the Mexico tenements we are taken next where his older brother is staked out high in a municipal slum block, sans electricity, lift, facilities for normal living. Sombra (real name Federico) is his brother and his friend Santos sit around a table as they explore aimlessly their place in this City at the time of the students strike of 1999. So setting the time period.

Surreal elements of nuanced close up with a crushed spider opening Sombras flat door, by magic eh!, notions of French film outré panning in single shot and returning to orthodox and overhead outdoor filming as a discourse takes place with Aurora, an autistic girl in the flat below who they trick into supplying a lead for electricity are the closest we get to any characterisation.
That is a bit harsh, apart from from early indications that Sombras has health problems concerning visions of a marauding tiger, little is developed in each character. An implied metaphor of the conditional state lived in. Pawing at his senses of truth and idealism, linked to the Students despair and antipathy with the system and it’s degrading corruption and lack of control. It therefore prefaces the downward decline of state and control and exploration of its people witnessed presently.

There is an inanimate object harnessed into giving some narrative and it is a backwards sentimental journey used as an allegory of the filmmakers set of concerns.
To move or not to move
A philosophy is hinged upon concerning adventure, moving, travel, exploring, absorbing, challenging you the viewer to consider how much is changed in the person and the alternative of standing still and observing that orthodoxy that has everyone chasing their tails so to speak.

Except it is done through a cassette much loved by their father and once again music as in many peoples lives, instinctively or otherwise, comes to the rescue or at least as a consolatory medium. It has a complete focus and intention and works pleasantly as the vehicle for this story.
The flat is departed when they decide after seeing the cassettes author is in hospital in a dated newspaper go to find him at whatever hospital it seems he is at.
Getting in gear and exploring
So the journey starts. Misfortune, misdirection, meet ups (with Ana the Student activist and ex of Sombras, as they jointly embark on this adventure and homage to eulogise over the forgotten artist hero of their fathers and no the sole messenger of the consciousness and philosophy they imbue.

Like a rock star such as Keith Richards without the dough, Epigmenio Cruz has genes which perpetuate his survival and after a chronic illness has departed the hospital. Despots and desperadoes frequent part

Here comes a very audacious eloquent stirring film with constant engrossing thoughts and provocative notions. It is a stimulating story told in three parts each special and haunting. From the home both the principal character, a young Tomás And his mother have a parting of the ways.
Is it a road movie? There is movement of a kind which is symbolic, through the hospital encounters, the Student political statements and anthropological diatribe offered in this miniature society depiction, the roundabout journey of over old ground seen differently, to the denouement of the journey and it’s objective.
The use of bit part non-actors, and sometimes I thought the principles were playing into this by ad-libbing, is a rustic charming piece of surreality.
While consciously putting forward the film as non reality it assumes another dimension as art work. The pleasantly shot cinematography by Ruizpalacio enhances it extensively and the evocative provocative auditory (I had to cover my ears during one droning sequence) with acoustic traditional Mexicano music was complimentary for the most part.

Music as originated by a real Epigmenio Cruz was strikingly beautiful and helped choreograph the films movements.

Conclusion ###3 #### 4 if your a film buff interested in variety (not the magazine) etc
This is a film short on real narrative and development of character. Within its self imposed narrow constraints it exposes the measure of live as lived in certain places. Unique as Mexico is it has universal authority but was been willfully or savagely brutalized by the events that are the passage of time and new life discovery. No religiosity as might be a refugee creeps in but a fundamental string of ideas though not pearls exact an emotional and willing warm response.
There is poetry in it fine film making excellent acting and the reward or one of them is a well framed soliloquy in the final elements which is exemplary on several levels. The speech is akin to Plato or Cicero as ‘agnostic’ philosophy goes to my mind. It is a semblance of order in disorder.

John Graham

18 November 2015


On at QFT Belfast from this Friday 20 November 2015 until and including Thursday 26 November 2015

Check for other releases and films, events for this Season for mostly intelligent blissful entertainment and to banish the woes of winter and to be sure of times etc.