Saturday, September 26, 2009

Backyard (El Traspatio)

Ciudad Juarez is a small town across the border from the U.S. where women have been disappearing, only to be found later raped and murdered. Though the numbers keep growing, seems like no one really cares. These women come mainly from the poor classes, cheap labor for multinational businesses on the area, and these crimes are, at most, a nuisance to the authorities.

This Mexican movie from director Carlos Carrera focuses on that reality, and does so in a perfect way. Maybe that is why it’s Mexico’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Film to the Academy Awards, and I hope it gets nominated so that there’s a chance more people will see this movie.

Written by Sabina Berman, this movie has a very interesting plot, as it seems to portray men and women on different sides (with very few exceptions). Women are the victims, men the perpetrators; women are moving things and trying to give the situation visibility and to find solutions, men want to cover it up or ignore it. Women are worried about the victims, men are worried about their careers. This makes for a powerful play about gender struggles, even if you can see that there are other things in stake, as money and political ambitions.

Talented and beautiful actress Ana De La Reguera portrays policewoman Blanca Bravo, doing all she can and some more to solve and stop the crimes. She doesn’t look glamorous; she looks real, as real as this story is. At first she was not considered for the part, as there was the fear she’d look “too sexy” for it. As you’ll find out watching the movie, clearly it wasn’t a problem. There are other relevant characters in the movie and acting is very good. Apart from Ana, I want to mention Amorita Rasgado and Adriana Paz.

As I said, what goes on at Ciudad Juarez is unfortunately reality, not fiction, and the director does a good job at making you see it as so.

Quoting the Organization of American States' Inter-American Commission on Human Rights:
The victims of these crimes have preponderantly been the state of young women, between 12 and 22 years of age. Many were students, and most were assembly plants workers. A number were relative newcomers to Ciudad Juarez who had migrated from other areas of Mexico. The victims were generally reported missing by their families, with their bodies found days or months later abandoned in vacant lots, outlying areas or in the desert. In most of these cases there were signs of sexual violence, abuse, torture or in some cases mutilation.

I’d also like to recommend a visit to the movie official site, very interactive and with lots of relevant information.

I’ve seen this movie portrayed as a Thriller and I’m afraid it will give the wrong idea about the movie. I guess they have to “sell it” any way they can, and if it brings more people to watch it, so be it. But it is not an eat-some-popcorn-and-relax flick.

If you are looking for an entertaining movie, this is not it. I didn’t enjoy myself. I was moved, and worried. By the way, sex-related crimes against women are on the rise, everywhere.

Green light!

Watch trailer @ Movie On Companion

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