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Between Us

Pic has just the right commercial elements and broad (but not too broad) comic tone to translate to solid B.O. numbers locally and in specialty Stateside venues catering to Latino auds.

It’s “The War of the Roses” all over again in writer-director Patricia Martinez’s mildly amusing debut, “Between Us,” in which a middle-class Mexico City family is torn asunder by an intransigent dad and a had-it-up-to-here mom. Strictly conceived along the lines of a French-style boulevard comedy, pic has just the right commercial elements and broad (but not too broad) comic tone to translate to solid B.O. numbers locally and in specialty Stateside venues catering to Latino auds, especially drawing on star power of co-leads Jesus Ochoa and Carmen Beato.

After a bright title sequence featuring homemovie footage of a happy young family moving into a new abode, pic skips forward 17 years to an aging house with a leaky roof, with Miriam (Beato) rudely awakened by the bedside farts of her husband, Rodolfo (Ochoa). The next fart joke, alas, comes at the predictable finish, but in between is a mix of goofy comedy and emotional tugs and pulls that are at least recognizably close to the realities of middle-age married life.

Rodolfo is overweight, exhausted by his job at an architecture firm, and overwhelmed by too many changes at once among the four women in the house: Miriam’s desires for a freer life; eldest daughter Sofia (Diana Garcia) getting serious about new b.f. Marcos (Lisardo); middle daughter Victoria (Giovana Fuentes), a teenager who’s fooling around and partying hard; and youngest daughter Ana Paula (Camila Risser), who has her own needs but gives Rodolfo her unconditional love.

Pic’s sympathies at first appear to be with Rodolfo, who impulsively quits his job despite mounting expenses around the house and several mouths to feed. However, true to the boulevard-comedy tradition, he has more than his share of flaws, including a lover (Giovanna Zacarias), and auds may begin to side with Miriam (also cheating) and her sense that she deserves a more fulfilling life.

The comedy’s overextended device is that Rodolfo, now stuck at home, is able to observe, with some shock, his family’s daily life in closeup. This shifts in the later sequences, after the couple opts for a divorce: Unable to live away from home, Rodolfo sneaks into the basement.

The cast is game for the genre’s almost mathematical formulas, in which each action yields a reaction and every up must have a down. Ochoa, Mexican cinema’s go-to guy for harried dads, comfortably settles into his role; Beato, a far subtler actor, is similarly at ease, even when her character’s decisions seem dictated by comedy rules rather than by story logic. Supporting perfs are fine, with young Risser a likable screen tyke.

Lenser Paula Huidobro shrewdly avoids making things as bright as possible in the manner of most comedies; Victor Hernandez’ score, on the other hand, is rife with “funny” music cliches. Sound mix and post-production work were done in Los Angeles, with high-quality results.

Between Us

Mexico-U.S.

  • Production: A La Banda Films/Cuevano Films presentation in association with Unilever Mexico and Banco Santander. Produced by Roberto Sneider, Patricia Martinez. Co-producer, Laura Imperiale. Directed, written by Patricia Martinez.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Paula Huidobro; editor, Oscar Figueroa; music, Victor Hernandez; production designer, Ana Solares; costume designer, Viviana Lopez; sound (Dolby Digital), Santiago Nunez; sound designer, Peter Lago; supervising sound editor, Trip Brock; re-recording mixers, Nunez, Mark Rozett; associate producer, Georgina Teran; assistant director, Laura Pesce; casting, Sandra Leon. Reviewed at Guadalajara Film Festival (competing), March 29, 2011. Running time: 93 MIN.
  • With: With: Jesus Ochoa, Carmen Beato, Diana Garcia, Lisardo, Giovanna Zacarias, Patricio Castillo, Camila Risser, Giovana Fuentes. (Spanish dialogue)
  • Music By: