×

Drama/Mex

In "Drama/Mex," helmer Gerardo Naranjo crafts a deceptively complex tripartite character study of love, despair and unexpected compassion. Exec produced by Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna's shingle Canana, pic is solid arthouse material, and could ride the new wave of Mexican cinema to more than mere fest play.

With:
With: Fernando Becerril, Diana Garcia, Miriana Moro, Juan Pablo Castaneda, Emilio Valdes, Montserrat Lastra, Mariana Perez, Hector "Gava" Davila, Luis Calvillo, Jose Calvillo, Enrique Calderon.

An unerring compositional eye plus firm control of an inventive structure keep “Drama/Mex” well within the attention span, even when the script wanders without seeming to know why. In his sophomore feature, helmer Gerardo Naranjo has honed his skills and begun to fulfill the promise he showed with “Malachance,” crafting a deceptively complex tripartite character study of love, despair and unexpected compassion. Exec produced by Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna’s shingle Canana, pic is solid arthouse material, and could ride the new wave of Mexican cinema to more than mere fest play.

Naranjo tells three disparate stories centered around one night in Acapulco, but this is not a flashy tourist part of town, and, while Naranjo’s obviously influenced by Alejandro Inarritu, he’s no slavish copyist.

Beautifully woven together in a kind of relay style, each section moves further along in time and then gets handed back to the next to recover some ground before continuing into the present. Such a precariously balanced structure can easily come tumbling down, but Naranjo skillfully maintains the shifts and the momentum.

Popular on Variety

Persistent young charmer Chano (Emilio Valdes) follows ex-g.f. Fernanda (Diana Garcia) home, scaling the walls when she won’t let him in through the door and forcing her down on the bed in an extremely well-played and disturbingly real scene. What starts as a rape however turns into a mutual pairing when Fernanda becomes a willing participant; she’s still got a thing for the guy even though he shows no signs he can be trusted.

When her current beau Gonzalo (Juan Pablo Castaneda) gets wind of Chano’s return, he goes ballistic, at first trying to win Fernanda back through a nighttime serenade but then his jealousy, fueled by alcohol, intensifies, and a struggle ensues as Fernanda flip-flops between the two.

Third thread functions more as an independent second story, bearing little connection to the parallel drama. Tired, middle-aged suit Jaime (Fernando Becerril), fed-up with his numbed existence, steals the company payroll and rents a place on the beach to do himself in. Fifteen-year-old runaway Tigrillo (Miriana Moro) thinks he’s an easy target for a little scam, but soon realizes he’s suicidal and becomes his unexpected protector.

Latter grouping is unquestionably the more interesting, raising issues far more multi-dimensional than jealousy and indecision. While acting by a largely nonprofessional cast is strong, it’s the puckish Moro who steals the show, taking enormous pleasure in soliciting passing tourists with her newly-learned phrase “massage with relaxation” and yet revealing a warmth and depth below the teen swagger that’s as understated as it is surprising. With his ashen face of despair, Becerril, the sole thesper with a solid resume behind him, is a well modulated contrast.

All this is lensed with a breezy, jiggly hand-held style that occasionally bobs up and down a bit too often but keeps a sense of youth and naturalism without pushing the envelope. Of special note is Naranjo’s beautiful framing, in collaboration with d.p. Tobias Datum (“How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer”). Blow-up from Super 16 retains a not unpleasant graininess in the indoor scenes, giving the whole a realist texture. Post-prod dubbing can be problematic, sounding as if some phrases were recorded in an adjacent room.

Drama/Mex

Mexico

Production: An El Revolcadero, "La Bella Sobriedad" presentation of a Revolcadero Films, Canana, IMCINE production. (International sales: Cinematografica Revolcadero, Mexico City.) Produced by Gabriel Garcia, Santiago Paredes, Miriana Moro. Executive producers, Gabriel Garcia, Renato Ornelas, Yibran Asuad, Kyzza Terrazas, Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal, Pablo Cruz. Directed, written by Gerardo Naranjo.

Crew: Camera (color, Cinemascope, Super 16-to-35mm), Tobias Datum; editor, Yibran Asuad; music, Julio Preciado, Chimo Bayo; music supervisor, Lynn Fainchtein; production designer, Claudio Castelli; costume designer, Annai Ramos; sound (Dolby Digital DTS), Gabriel Reyna; casting, Alejandro Reza. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Critics' Week), May 23, 2005. Running time: 105 MIN.

With: With: Fernando Becerril, Diana Garcia, Miriana Moro, Juan Pablo Castaneda, Emilio Valdes, Montserrat Lastra, Mariana Perez, Hector "Gava" Davila, Luis Calvillo, Jose Calvillo, Enrique Calderon.

More Film

  • Rachel Brosnahan25th Annual Screen Actors Guild

    Film News Roundup: Rachel Brosnahan Starring in Sci-Fi Movie 'Distant'

    In today’s film news roundup, Rachel Brosnahan will try science-fiction, documentaries about Herb Alpert and Sasha Joseph Neulinger find homes, and Cameron Boyce’s “Runt” gets a premiere. CASTING Rachel Brosnahan will star with Anthony Ramos in Amblin Partners’ upcoming comedic sci-fi film “Distant.” Will Speck and Josh Gordon will direct from Spenser Cohen’s script about [...]

  • Aldis Hodge Regina King

    Aldis Hodge Gushes Over Working With First-Time Film Director Regina King

    Regina King is on a roll. After winning an Oscar for “If Beale Street Could Talk” and starring as masked vigilante Sister Knight in HBO’s “Watchmen,” King is gearing up to make her film directing debut with “One Night in Miami.” Adapted by Kemp Powers from his play of the same name, the film dramatizes a [...]

  • Jon Berg

    Netflix Developing Female-Fronted Comedy Film With Jon Berg (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix is developing an untitled female-led comedy with producer Jon Berg, the former Warner Bros.’ co-president of production. The writing team of Jordan Roter (“The Tear Down,” “Camp Rules”) and Monica Corcoran Harel (New York Times, Marie Claire) has been attached to write the project. Netflix is keeping the logline under wraps. The project will [...]

  • Bob Chapek Disney CEO

    Why Wall Street Is Unhappy (for Now) With Disney's CEO Change

    We all knew the end was coming. Bob Iger had promised, time and again, that the end was coming. But the rather abrupt announcement Tuesday afternoon that he would relinquish his longtime role as CEO of the Walt Disney Co. — and that theme parks head Bob Chapek would succeed him at the top of [...]

  • Dau

    'DAU. Natasha': Film Review

    There’s a school of critical thought that believes no contextual details or backstory to a film — be they to do with its source material, the circumstances of its production, or its makers’ motivation — should be examined or factored into a review of it, that the final product up on the screen is the [...]

  • The Invisible Man Movie

    Box Office: 'The Invisible Man' Eyes $20 Million-Plus Debut

    With “The Invisible Man,” a terrifying thriller starring Elisabeth Moss, Universal is attempting to revive the cinematic prospects for its classic monster properties. After “The Mummy” with Tom Cruise flamed out theaters in 2017, the studio scraped its plans to form an interconnected Dark Universe and instead retooled its vision to create standalone stories unique [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content