Sunday, December 21, 2008

Quemar las Naves (Burn the Bridges)

I was looking forward to be able to see this movie as the story seemed interesting according to what I was able to read in several festivals, as it was described about two teenage siblings in an incest relationship. If by any chance you also read that the movie was about incest, simply dismiss the information, as this is one good movie that definitively is not only about incest.

The movie tells a very good story about extremely close and symbiotic family relationships that definitively are more common in Latin American countries than elsewhere in the world. Its about two siblings with a dying mother and Helena the oldest quitting school to take care of her mother and Sebastian not really dealing with her mother dying and being closer to the house maid, Chayo.

But the story is complex, as Helena had to become not only the caretaker but also the mother to Sebastian, the house mistress and the decision taker, leaving her not time to have real friends and to lose social skills. Her only hope is to be able to travel to countries as dissimilar as possible from her small town in Zacatecas and she spends her free time learning English to be able to take the trip. Sebastian is a quiet, shyish, artistic and sensible teen that Helena has asked her mother lover nephew to take good care of him at school. He is discovering that he’s gay and totally falls for Juan that just started at their school.

When their mother dies both have to face painful decisions about love, sex, friendship, power, and betrayal; meaning, they have to abruptly define their attitudes toward life. I know I’m telling a lot about the story, but no matter how much I tell about it you will not grasp what you will see in the screen and the few unexpected twists and turns that take you into a fantastic voyage of perhaps not really familiar to many, family relationships.

A story so complex could not be well told in the big screen if you do not have an excellent screenplay and director. Directed and co written by Francisco Franco in his feature film debut -he is an accomplished stage director- you can hardly believe that is his first film as not only the movie has excellent tech specs but also he was able to tell a complex story in a compelling, believable and engaging way. Chapeau!

As a movie has great production values with great cinematography and framing compositions; but this is a film about the story and the performances and it has very good performances, especially by Irene Azuela that plays a puzzling, moody and caring Helena as a real pro thespian, so it’s no surprise to find that she won the best Actress award at the 2008 Ariel Awards. But also has remarkable soundtrack with some songs and lyrics that absolutely complement what’s happening in the screen. For those familiar with Mexico music scene the music is by Joselo Rangel from Café Tacuba and performed by Julieta Venegas and Eugenia Leon.

The film has been collecting honors and accolades in festivals like the 2008 Morelia fest, Valladolid fest, Vancouver fest and was in competition at the 2008 Torino fest where won the Audience Award and Special Mention to the Scoula Holden Award.

Anyway, definitively a movie that I recommend to those that appreciate the New Mexican Cinema as this movie even when is a pure drama totally belongs to this wave that implies a directing style that absolutely Francisco Franco has it and masterfully shows it with this film.

For those not familiar with Latin American family lifestyles, I suggest to open their minds and allow viewer ship without making comparisons to their own lifestyles as I believe is the only way you’ll be able to enjoy this compelling drama.


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