Review: ‘The Five Cardinal Points’

Pic evokes the loneliness, poverty and risks of immigrant life but doesn't tell auds much they didn't know already.

Two Mexican workers eking out a hardscrabble living in Kansas City, Kan., are viewed through the painterly lens of Austrian docu helmer Fridolin Schoenwiese in “The Five Cardinal Points.” An affecting if somewhat ponderous portrait, pic evokes the loneliness, poverty and risks of immigrant life but doesn’t tell auds much they didn’t know already. Likable central subjects and contemplative lensing should help the film cross borders on the fest circuit.

Charismatic matriarch Maria Esther Solis juggles organizing traditional quinceanera parties among the Kansas City immigrant community with looking after her daughter’s young children in the wake of their mother’s deportation. Later, she finds a niche as a DJ at a local Spanish-language radio station, but she keenly misses her friends and family back in Tres Valles, Veracruz. Also pining for his loved ones, Miguel de la o Ochoa does a variety of menial jobs in order to send money home. A visit to Mexico requires a dangerous desert crossing to get back to Kansas. Scene-setting shots (trains passing, picturesque street scenes and so on) add color and texture, but also make the running time feel longer than it really is.

The Five Cardinal Points



A Mischief Films production. (International sales: Mischief Films, Vienna.) Produced by Ralph Wieser, Georg Misch. Executive producer, Wieser. Co-producer, Fridolin Schoenwiese. Directed by Fridolin Schoenwiese.


Camera (color), Schoenwiese, Rafael Ortega; editor, Karina Ressler. Reviewed on DVD, Shady Cove, U.K., April 12, 2010. (In Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival.) Original title: Die 5 Himmelsrichtungen/Los 5 puntos cardinales. Spanish, English dialogue. Running time: 94 MIN.


Maria Esther Solis, Miguel de la o Ochoa.
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