The first feature by musicvideo helmer Angel Flores Torres is an awkward depiction of a young woman’s mystical journey. Hampered by a meandering storyline, pic runs out of gas by the time it reaches its puzzling conclusion. B.O. in Mexican release has been so-so, and international interest looks to be restricted to small and specialized fests. (It won best film at San Juan Cinemafest last year.)
Starting point is a flashback to 18 years ago, when a pregnant woman is hit and killed by a train in the small town Magnolia, in northern Mexico. The unborn child is delivered and bought illegally by a rich couple.
Named Mariana, the girl grows up in a strict religious boarding school, which she leaves when her adoptive father dies. Mariana (Vanessa Bauche) is at odds with neurotic mother, Dolores (Blanca Sanchez), who won’t let Mariana get her hands on the family fortune.
Mariana moves in with Carlos Gallardo (Juan Claudio Retes), a smarmy drug dealer, and loses herself in drugs and casual sex (which entails an abortion) until she has a fight with Gallardo and pushes him out a window. As Mariana flees, she hurts her ankle and is aided by the earnest Sebastian (Osvaldo Benavides), who thereupon heads for the rain forest on his own spiritual quest while Mariana decides to travel to Magnolia in search of her real father (Gabriel Retes), who has become a desert prophet. Further loose ends are connected before Mariana comes full circle to her meeting with destiny. “Green Stones” moves uneasily between urban melodrama and mystical adventure, and although his experience in videos has allowed him to develop a keen eye, Flores Torres needs to learn more about character development and narrative coherence.
Bauche, who played the young wife in the first episode of “Amores Perros,” manages to be convincing in the underwritten role of a little girl lost, but the same can’t be said of her male counterparts.
Pic was shot in Super 16 and then blown up to 35mm, resulting in grainy image quality. Soundtrack will be of special interest to Mexican rock buffs, with songs by Cafe Tacuba, El gran silencio, Maldita Vecindad and Botellita de Jerez. Members of the same groups and others like La Lupita and La Castaneda make cameo appearances, which add to trivia value.