If I Never See You Again

First-time helmer Juan Pablo Villasenor strikes gold with "If I Never See You Again," winner of the best film prize from both the international and Mexican juries at the recent Guadalajara Film Festival. A highly original, unpredictable story of five lonely old men rotting in a Mexico City nursing home who run away from patronizing authorities to play their musical instruments in assorted clubs, this looks like a fine bet for foreign festivals and arthouses. The center of the troupe is Bruno (Jorge Galvan), who has spent 10 years in the home, and who is provoked to action by the supervisors' callousness when Bruno's love, Rosita, ends the loneliness by taking her own life. Rosita's great wish was to have her ashes transported to her birthplace in Tijuana, so Bruno steals them and seeks out Rosita's mysterious niece, Margarita (Leticia Huijara). Margarita turns out to be a hooker and a stripper, and worst of all for Bruno, completely uninterested in her aunt's dying wish.

With:
Bruno ..... Jorge Galvan Oscar .....Justo Martinez Gonzalo ..... Max Kerlow Poncho ..... Ignacio Retes Fabian..... Rodolfo Velez Margarita ..... Leticia Huijara Diana ..... Angelina Pelaez Nursing Home Director ..... Ana Bertha Espin

Meanwhile, inspired by his heroism, Bruno’s four bandmates escape while performing in another nursing home and track him down at Margarita’s. Bruno has by now taken a shine to the young woman, who, however, pines for her lost Australian love. To complicate this set of incompatible desires, Margarita’s older neighbor Diana (Angelina Pelaez) hits on Bruno, then old Oscar (Justo Martinez), the band’s singer. Ultimately, a sleazy club owner packs their musical cases with drugs for them to transport unwittingly to Tijuana, but the old geezers outfox the younger folk.

Villasenor advances his storyline without losing sight of the humor built into it. He also manages to imbue the proceedings with sly doses of suspense. Old people — men, anyway — get screen time often denied to them, and the actors milk the situations for both comedy and pathos. They are aged physically, but they retain a youthful joie de vivre once they leave the repressive old people’s home. (One authoritarian from the nursing home gets his just desserts.) Unfortunately, the women come off as fairly desperate, even if the film’s clever resolution is relatively kind to them.

If I Never See You Again

Mexican

Production: A Centro de Capacitacion Cinematografica/IMCINE/Estudios Churubusco production. (International sales: Maria Eugenia Garzon, IMCINE, Mexico City.) Executive producers, Gustavo Montiel, Andrea Gentile. Directed, written by Juan Pablo Villasenor.

Crew: Camera (color), Janusz Polom; editor, Miguel Lanvandeira; music, Tito Enriquez; art direction, Rocio Ramirez; sound, Antonio Osordia, Luciano Larobina. Reviewed at Guadalajara Film Festival (competing), March 16, 1997. Running time: 97 MIN.

With: Bruno ..... Jorge Galvan Oscar .....Justo Martinez Gonzalo ..... Max Kerlow Poncho ..... Ignacio Retes Fabian..... Rodolfo Velez Margarita ..... Leticia Huijara Diana ..... Angelina Pelaez Nursing Home Director ..... Ana Bertha Espin

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