First-time writer-director Aurora Guerrero captures the dynamics of friendship between 15-year-old girls.

First-time writer-director Aurora Guerrero beautifully captures the fluctuating dynamics of friendship between 15-year-old girls in “Mosquita y Mari,” a low-budget, high-achieving drama that makes excellent use of locations in Los Angeles’ predominantly Mexican immigrant neighborhood of Huntington Park. European-style coming-of-age pic weds a loose, anecdotal style of narrative to vivid images and impressive thesping by young Fenessa Pineda and Venecia Troncoso in the leads. Smallish Stateside festivals will get a serious crush on this somewhat slight but charming and believable indie, and Guerrero, like her actors, is definitely a talent to watch.

New to town after hopping the border with her mom (Dulce Maria Solis), the hardened Mari (Troncoso) makes fast friends with straight-A student Yolanda (Pineda), whom she nicknames “Mosquita” because she looks like a “little fly.” Yolanda, the principled product of strict parents, helps Mari with her schoolwork, but the two spend at least as much time just hanging out, often in an abandoned auto-repair shop. Guerrero flirts with the notion that, for at least one of the girls, the attraction might be partly sexual. Tech credits are superb, particularly Magela Crosignani’s poetic lensing.

Mosquita y Mari

Production

An Indion Entertainment Group, Maya Entertainment presentation of an Indion production. Produced by Chad Burris. Executive producers, Heather Rae, Moctesuma Esparza, Jose Martinez Jr., Ky Chaffin, Simone Ling, Jim McKay. Co-producer, Char Agabao. Directed, written by Aurora Guerrero.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Magela Crosignani; editor, Augie Robles; music, Ryan Beveridge; music supervisor, Julie Burris; production designer, Dalila Paola Mendez; set decorator, Luisa P. Garcia. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Next), Jan. 24, 2012. Running time: 85 MIN.

With

Fenessa Pineda, Venecia Troncoso, Laura Patalano, Joaquin Garrido, Dulce Maria Solis, Omar Leyva. (Spanish, English dialogue)

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more