×

Between Night and Day

This is solid festival fare that will be boosted by critical support and modest sales interest, particularly in Europe and Asia.

With:
With: Francisco Cruz, Gabino Rodriguez, Carmen Beato, Arcelia Ramirez, Joaquin Cosio, Modesto Velasquez, Irineo Alvarez, Soraya Barraza.

An autistic man’s flight from a life of drudgery and oppressive domesticity leads to something unexpected in Bernardo Arellano’s engrossing feature debut, “Between Night and Day.” Although the director-writer-editor struggles through the narrative’s early sections, he finds a voice and tone in the latter half en route to a conclusion open to numerous interpretations. This is solid festival fare that will be boosted by critical support and modest sales interest, particularly in Europe and Asia.

An odd opening scene depicts Francisco (Francisco Cruz, in his film debut) finding a rat in a Mexico City park and adopting it as a pet. He works as a servant in the home of Victor (Joaquin Cosio), who tolerates what others view as Francisco’s off-putting behavior; Silvia (Carmen Beato), the imperious lady of the house, is cold toward Francisco at best, openly hostile at worst. Adding to the household tension, Victor and Silvia’s grown, live-at-home son Bruno (Gabino Rodriguez) announces he’s been laid off from his office job.

Unable to look straight ahead due to a permanent crook in his neck, Francisco would appear somewhat suspicious to a stranger encountering him for the first time, which is what makes him such an interesting lead character: The outward appearance conceals a greater truth revealed in due time.

Silvia eventually arranges for sister Gaby (Arcelia Ramirez) to care for Francisco, who can’t possibly fend for himself — or so it seems. But Gaby’s mean b.f. Victor (Joaquin Cosio, overacting) instantly despises the old man, and Francisco realizes he’s left one nasty household for another.

Noticing a river flowing through a city park near Gaby’s place, Francisco packs his few belongings one morning and traces the river’s course to a nearby forest. Suddenly, the pic takes on a new character and rhythm, as the sights and sounds of wilderness fill the screen and Francisco manages for himself — for awhile. Rescued after a nasty fall by banana farmer Modesto (Modesto Velasquez, another wonderful non-pro), Francisco discovers a new friend, albeit one with an uncertain future.

The film’s ability to surprise the viewer with an abrupt change of course is certainly its most notable achievement, and Arellano displays an astute sense of how to mold his material to suit the surroundings. A man on the social margins able to rediscover himself also makes “Between Night and Day” convincingly life-affirming, with a minimum of contrivance.

Damian Aguilar’s vid lensing is adequate though hardly inspired, but what really grabs the eye is Cruz’s quietly felt performance, all the better when some of the pros are chewing scenery.

Popular on Variety

Between Night and Day

Mexico

Production: A CCC presentation in association with Agrupacion Caramelo and Nephilim Prods. Produced by April Shannon. Executive producer, Henner Hofmann. Directed, written, edited by Bernardo Arellano.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), Damian Aguilar; music, Dario Arellano; production designer, Carolina Espinosa; costume designer, Espinosa; sound (stereo), Victor Navarro; sound designers, Navarro, Ivan Ramos. Reviewed at Guadalajara Film Festival (competing), March 26, 2011. Running time: 75 MIN.

With: With: Francisco Cruz, Gabino Rodriguez, Carmen Beato, Arcelia Ramirez, Joaquin Cosio, Modesto Velasquez, Irineo Alvarez, Soraya Barraza.

More Film

  • Fiddler A Miracle of Miracles

    Film Review: 'Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles'

    Still beloved and routinely revived 55 years after its Broadway debut — including a Yiddish-language version now playing in New York — “Fiddler on the Roof” is a popular phenomenon that shows no sign of subsiding. Max Lewkowicz’s “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles” provides an entertaining if hardly exhaustive overview of how the unlikely success [...]

  • 'Weathering With You' Heads for $100

    'Weathering With You' Heads for $100 Million Box Office Haul

    Makoto Shinkai’s animated romantic drama “Weathering with You” passed the JPY10 billion ($94 million) mark in Japan on Wednesday, according to an announcement by distributor Toho. This makes it the tenth-highest earning Japanese film of all time. Since its release on July 19 on 448 screens in 359 complexes, the film has racked up 7.52 million admissions. The [...]

  • Burn review

    Film Review: 'Burn'

    There’s more smoke than fire in “Burn,” a reasonably promising single-location thriller that never quite settles on what it wants to be — a straight-up suspense piece, twisty black comedy, oddball character study, etc. “All the above” would be a tall but not impossible order to pull off. The problem is that writer-director Mike Gan’s [...]

  • Rounds

    Sarajevo Film Review: 'Rounds'

    Five features (plus a scattering of documentaries) into his career, leading Bulgarian writer-director Stephan Komandarev has resisted cultivating a clear thematic or stylistic throughline to his oeuvre. Yet his latest, the overnight police patchwork “Rounds,” feels surprisingly close to quintessential, pulling as it does plot points, structural models and tonal switches from his previous films [...]

  • Travis Scott Surprises Fans With Netflix

    Travis Scott Surprises Fans With Netflix Documentary Reveal, Pop-Up in Houston

    Travis Scott just revealed his new Netflix documentary in the most organic way possible: a social media post to his 18.5 million followers on Instagram. The photo consisted of him holding a series of VHS tapes, which turns out to be the trailer for his forthcoming documentary on Netflix titled “Look Mom I Can Fly.” [...]

  • Overcomer

    Film Review: 'Overcomer'

    No matter the setting or circumstances, the solution to every dilemma found in Christian Evangelical films is getting closer to God. That certainly holds true with regards to “Overcomer,” the latest bit of bigscreen proselytizing by writer-director-star Alex Kendrick (“War Room,” “Courageous”). The story of a high school basketball coach who’s forced to take over [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Inside the Spider-Man Split: Finger-Pointing and Executive Endgames

    Spider-Man’s neighborhood has been decidedly unfriendly this week. A private and contentious battle over the onscreen future of the beloved Marvel superhero has spilled out into the public square over the past few days. After making nice for two wildly successful films, Sony Pictures, which holds the licensing rights to the Marvel character, will go [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content