Mist of Guilt
Official Selection Mexican Fiction Feature Film
Dir. Francisco Laresgoiti
The Richter Scale says: When we talk about a tragedy in terms of theater and cinema, we usually refer to a story with a disastrous conclusion that could have been avoided if not for the dramatic flaw of the protagonist, which makes said conclusion inevitable. For Romeo and Juliet, that tragic flaw is their impulsivity and the irrational hate their families felt. For Hamlet, it’s his indecisiveness. For Yolanda (Alma Moreno), the protagonist of this film by Francisco Laresgoiti (his second feature film, if we don’t count the segment he made for Aztech), her tragic flaw is pride. Yolanda is a woman who has raised two children who have now crossed the border and she’s alone with her husband Juan (Ramón Álvarez), an alcoholic who is growing more and more useless. Yolanda was once a nanny and one of the children she looked after was Amanda (Marina de Tavira), who now lives in a luxurious house in Mexico City and has a four-month-old baby who need someone to look after her, since Amanda travels a lot with her husband Hans (Rolf Petersen). Amanda calls Yolanda to look after the baby, giving her all the necessary instructions regarding the medicines she needs and how often she needs to take them. Nothing should go wrong, but there’s something Amanda doesn’t know, and Yolanda’s pride will never let her reveal it: Yolanda is illiterate.
Once all the pieces are in place, the viewer has no choice but to watch this catastrophe unfold and that’s where the film is most successful. That feeling of helplessness that one feels while watching it. Yolanda is someone the audience could hate for causing everything we see, but Alma Moreno portrays her spirit and her determination for doing what she needs to do. Yolanda is confident and happy when we first meet her, in a marriage where she gives all the power to her husband (no doubt because it’s how she was taught, it may be a reason why she never learned to read), but always willing to do what is necessary for her family. It’s sad that it’s precisely what makes her so likable that unfolds this tragedy. Another highlight is the performance given by Ramón Álvarez, who plays a completely useless and ignorant man who takes advantage of what little power he has when he talks to his wife (telling her she must return every two weeks, knowing full well she’ll do what he says). This character represents the disease of ignorance.
One element that becomes crucial for the atmosphere of the piece is the black-and-white cinematography by Carlos Guizar, who uses close-ups of the baby and other characters’ faces to create a deeper connection. Also crucial is the editing by Pedro G. García, who provides a slow but confident pacing, allowing the events to build one on top of the other and leaving the audience with the desired impact. The black-and-white also helps create the aesthetic of a historical document, thus highlighting this topic that remains relevant: there are many people who, because of their social class or what’s expected of them, never learns to read and it becomes something for them to be ashamed of. It’s always a treat to see a film that understands its genre and uses it to say what needs to be said.
7-21-2018: Cinemex Plaza Luciérnaga, 20:00 hrs
7-25-2018: Teatro Juárez, 18:00 hrs[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]
Official Selection International Feature Film
Dir. Hlynur Palmason
There are corners of the world where it might be surprising that people live there. Places so cold and remote that the only people who live there are surely those who, for some reason, decided to take on those jobs (or those who were born there and remain due to the traditions they grew up with). Winter Brothers is set in a town next to a limestone mine in East Denmark, a place where the only way to make a living seems to be working in those mines. We spend most of the time in this film exploring this unwelcoming job and this atmosphere that looks like… most of Scandinavian cinema, shot with a certain objective view which creates a chilly sensation which makes the audience shiver along with the people on the screen. This harshness mixed with dark humor that Icelandic director Hlynur Palmason (in his feature directorial debut) handles is typically found in films that explore this region and with the sensibility of Ingmar Bergman, though this film has way less dialogue than any film by the Swedish master.
The story focuses on Emil (Elliott Crosset Hove), a mine worker who lives an isolated life. He has no friends and his co-workers mostly tolerate him because he provides a certain alcoholic brew that they like. Thanks to Elliott Crosset Hove’s performance and the director’s vision, the audience feels a certain sympathy for this character, even though his actions don’t really earn it. He’s a pathetic and sometimes creepy man. He spends a chunk of his day spying on Anna (Victoria Carmen Sonne), the girlfriend of his brother Johan (Simon Sears), the only person to show any affection for Emil until they explode in a brutal fight. What little plot this film has focuses on an accident caused by Emil’s brew: one day it doesn’t come out right and one of the mine workers winds up in the hospital on the verge of death, which gives all of Emil’s co-workers the license to treat him like they always had wanted to, including their superiors. One of the more harrowing and darkly comic scenes is when his boss brings Emil to his office, reads his file and then orders two other men to beat him up.
At one point, one character tells a story about a worker who brought his dog to the mine and then ordered the dog to wait outside until he comes back. The worker died that day, but the dog waited for him until he eventually dies. What do we learn from that story? Maybe it’s about how loyalty is absurd in a place where nobody asks for it or maybe it points to a job that has no future, but it’s a story someone tells Emil before hitting him. All of these elements are seen through that chill that Scandinavian films are known for and they make these events so absurd that we laugh at them. It’s not a story that invites us to connect with anyone, but to understand the point of view of a man who lives in isolation because of where he lives, the job he has and how he’s viewed in his own world.
7-21-2018: Teatro Ángela Peralta, 21:00 hrs.
7-28-2018: Teatro Principal, 19:00 hrs.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]