Dir. Jimena Montemayor
Official Selection Mexican Feature
The Richter Scale says: According to the Bible, Cain and Abel were the first brothers. The tale tells that Cain killed Abel and was then sentenced to wander the Land of Traitors. Ever since there have been many tales of brothers who betray (the Bible itself later has Essau and Jacob, or Joseph and his older brothers) and in many cases, these brothers compete for the attention of someone else. For many brothers, it’s the attention of their mother or father. In the case of Mateo and Tomás, what has them in conflict is Nadia. We meet Mateo (Pedro de Tavira) when he’s just returned to Mexico after some time away and he can’t seem to find his place in the city. He takes refuge in the company of his brother Tomás (Juan Pablo Campa) who is applying for a Master’s degree, and that brother’s girlfriend Nadia (Camila Selser).
Cinematographer Jimena Montemayor explores in her feature directorial debut, human loneliness and the despair we all feel for getting close to someone. Close-ups on the characters’ faces abound (even when there are two in the frame, we’re close to their faces) and there are also many moments when a few characters are left out of focus to zero in on the isolation that another character feels. There’s also a lot of dialogue (which is commonplace in more mainstream films, but a lot of independent Mexican films seem obsessed with silence) and a lot of what they say are references and allusions to books and theories, showing that these are cultured people. Still, no matter how cultured they are and how friendly they act toward each other, these two brothers cannot avoid their rivalry, a very fragile connection that the two actors nail.
But what about Nadia? She’s Tomás’ girlfriend and sleeps with Mateo, but what does she want? It’s never made clear, but we’re very clear on who Nadia is when she says that birds mate for life and then adds that she’s glad we don’t descend from birds. Nadia knows she doesn’t want to have her life tied down to someone else (she never wants to go with Tomás to his Master’s program, for instance) but beyond that she’s lost in life. Probably the film’s greatest accomplishment is that it presents this love triangle where the woman is probably the most complex of the three characters (it may not sound like such an achievement, but many movies about these types of triangles place the woman as an object and not a character).
This film screens today at 6:00 pm at the Auditorium of the University of Guanajuato.
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