Starring: Maribel Verdu, Gael Garcia Bernal, Ana Lopez Mercado, Diego Luna
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed By: Alfonso Cuaron
Written By: Alfonso Cuaron & Carlos Cuaron
So much can be spoken about this film. It is one of those which whilst you are watching it you are unsure what to think, and when it finishes you feel completely overwhelmed by what you have just seen. All of this and the film isn't really about anything on the surface and doesn't have any major scenes to get you on the edge of your seat. It is simply a film with fantastically written and acted characters that you care about and want to follow on their journey, which is the brilliance with this film.
The plot is fairly simple. Two Mexican teenage lads lose their girlfriends to the travelling bug, however as soon as the other halves disappear across the World the two begin partying and searching for that next sexual encounter. At a wedding, to which they both attend, they meet Tenoch's (Luna) cousin's wife. Hr name is Luisa (Verdu), she is ten years older and way out of their league. However they both work their charm and invite her to a make believe beach the following day.
The lads little fib doesn't pay off as when she realises that her husband has been sleeping with random women she takes them up on the offer, sending the three of them across the country in search of a make believe beach. Whilst on this trip tension between the friends builds as both try to sexually conquer a woman much older than them. She again calls their bluff and begins to flirt back and before you know it she is pitting them against each other. Many times through the film we see Luisa alone and upset, clearly hurt at her recent issues, but we don't fully understand this until the end when her big secret is revealed and we can see why she is like she is. It ends up being quite moving.
Like I said the film is very bare on the surface but the depths are endless. For one it shows us the contrasts within certain areas of Mexico at the time of filming. This is also highlighted by narration which is spoken over a muted backing track every time the trio move to a different area. The narrator explains to us the dangers of where they are heading or the turmoil the area has been through. As well as the narration we see this in our leading characters. Tenoch is a member of a wealthy family and has mainly been brought up by the maid. This is in contrast to Julio's (Bernal) very middle class family, who seem nonexistent in his life. In Luisa we see a woman who had potential which was extinguished due to an ill aunty she had to care for. Technically she is an orphan and had to go out to find the first job she could. Each of their contrasts are shown throughout the characters and it all means something to each of their lives.
Sex is also a massive theme in the movie. The opening shot is of one of the boys having sex with his girlfriend, and the second is of the other lad trying to have sex with his girlfriend before her Mother comes up the stairs. This is their life, and by the end of the film their sexual encounter is brought to a whole new level in a shocking final act which ultimately changes both their lives.
So much is good about this film. It is very relatable for every man and woman at the ages and with the problems of the characters. It is all believable, from the characters, to the language, to the motivations. Even the camera work is as if you are there with them in the moment. Everything about it is drawing you in and despite the lack of anything really exciting happening you are constantly hooked.
I had heard of this film before I watched it and whilst settling down to give it a view I was a little dubious but by the end I was shocked, I was moved and I was willing to watch more of these characters. Alfonso Cuaron used this film to gain the big productions in Hollywood and I'm really not surprised it worked as this film is fascinating.
4 / 5
Next film to review: A PERFECT GETAWAY