The pulque flows and the stories spin in "The Citrillo's Turns," a well-made but nearly impenetrable drama from vet Mexican helmer Felipe Cazals in which a gaggle of soldiers and a woman meet in the eponymous 1903 bar. Theatrical prospects are slim outside Spanish-lingo territories.

The pulque flows and the stories spin in “The Citrillo’s Turns,” a well-made but nearly impenetrable drama from vet Mexican helmer Felipe Cazals in which a gaggle of soldiers and a woman meet in the eponymous 1903 bar. Theatrical prospects are slim outside Spanish-lingo territories, though exotic nature of the proceedings and an old-fashioned feel may attract adventurous fest and cable biz.

Pulque is made from the fermented juice of the maguey. A major component of religious ceremonies, presumably for the almost hallucinatory buzz it provides, brew doesn’t travel well and is thus almost strictly a local poison of choice. During the violent, early days of the Mexican Revolution, the Mexico City bar hosts an unofficial storytelling marathon, complete with pulque, among three thirsty soldiers (Damian Alcazar, Jose Maria Yazpik, Jorge Zarate) and the beautiful Melba (Vanessa Bauche). Cazals favors claustrophobic close-ups, though striking faces and taut style can’t overcome inward-looking nature and narrative sluggishness of the slender story. Most memorable thesp is Yazpik, whose chiseled features suggest Fred Gwynne sketched by Mort Drucker. Tech credits are fine, with Lorenza Manrique’s art direction contributing to pic’s vivid period feel.

The Citrillo's Turns

Mexico

Production

A Cuatro Soles Films release (in Mexico) of an Imcine, Serenisima Films production. (International sales: Imcine, MexicoCity.) Produced by Fernando Gou. Directed, written by Felipe Cazals.

Crew

Camera (color), Angel Goded; editor, Oscar Figueroa; music, Omar Guzman; art director, Lorenza Manrique; sound (Dolby Digital/THX), Gabriel Coll. Reviewed at New Montreal Film Festival (Special Programs), Sept. 19, 2005. Running time: 97 MIN.

With

Damian Alcazar, Jose Maria Yazpik, Vanessa Bauche, Jorge Zarate, Mario Zaragoza.
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