Wassup Rockers

Hola Mexico Film Fest: Desierto Adentro (Rodrigo Plá) @ Quad Cinema.

Well, the Hola Mexico Film Festival ended today. I almost forgot about it, just as I pretty much forgot about TeatroStageFest this year. Seriously, I’ve just been so out of it. I feel really bad about missing the TeatroStageFest events, too, cos a couple of weeks ago I even got a call from one of their peeps reminding me about the shows. But of course at that point I was like, “Meh, there’s still time to figure out my schedule,” and of course just last night I was like, “Holy shiiiiit.”

Luckily, I remembered to attend the Hola Mexico fest. I was torn between watching Voy a explotar (I’m Gonna Explode) or Desierto adentro (The Desert Within). A while back I read about the former on Super45, and the soundtrack listing excited me, but the storyline seemed kinda boring. I was interested in the latter because it was directed by Rodrigo Plá. Last year I saw La zona, which he also directed, which was quite memorable, if not exactly perfect.  If you couldn’t tell by the title for this post, I ultimately decided on checking out Plá’s new one.

This movie wasn’t perfect either, but as it happened with La zona, it’s given me a lot to think about. Both works are lacking in hope and infuriating, which I see as a good thing.

On a superficial level, Desierto adentro could not be more different from La zona, which makes me appreciate Plá’s willingness to try different things. Whereas La zona is wrapped up in modernity, the urban and the secular, Desierto adentro is steeped in the olden days, the rural and in Catholicism. La zona, too, focuses on a close-knit community that chooses to close itself off from the corruptions of the greater society, whereas in the newer film, isolation is imposed upon the individual, and it’s never voluntary; rather, it’s meant to be experienced as a punishment.

The story is broken into four clearly marked acts, and we get cues to the main theme of each section. We meet Elías, whose choices lead to a series of events that lead him to be cursed out by a priest and disowned by his mother. A deeply religious family man, Elías understandably takes this very badly. Even worse, he loses his wife and one of his sons, Aureliano–and this is only the beginning of his troubles. (BTW, Cien años de soledad vibes, anyone? Aureliano is not a name I hear thrown around very often…)

The rest of the movie we see Elías trying to show penance for his errors, growing increasingly desperate as time passes, but what complicates things even more is that his 7 children suffer right along with him… some more than others.

We experience most of these events through the eyes of Elías’s son, Aureliano. No, not the Aureliano who dies. See, Elías’s wife was pregnant, and she died giving birth to a boy. To honor the memory of Aureliano, the baby is named after his brother. Elías sets Baby Aureliano (literally) apart from the other six surviving children, nurturing an artistic side. Some scenes feature animated versions of the pictures Baby Aureliano draws.  To a degree, Baby Aureliano thrives and finds comfort in this, but he soon comes to understand that Elías’s excuses of wanting to protect Baby Aureliano are rooted in more complex and sinister motives.

I’m sorry, I want to keep talking about it but I’m really tired and I need to work tomorrow.  I’ll try to edit it and update it mañana, maybe. :( Before I go to sleep, I want to mention the music in this movie, which was used to great effect. We only hear music intermittently, which makes it more conspicuous when it does appear. It just shows up on occasion, a naked chorus of voices, no accompaniment. It’s so creepy.


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