Dir: Gael Garcia Bernal. Mex. 2007. 75 minutes.
If sincere commitment and high spirits were enough, this first film by the supremely accomplished - even though still quite young - Mexican actor and heartthrob, Gael Garcia Bernal (Y Tu Mama Tambien, Motorcycle Diaries, Bad Education) would be a masterpiece. Alas, these ingredients, while surely desirable, aren't enough, and the film that results, despite its noble intentions, is never compelling and only intermittently watchable.
Centred around the non-stop partying of a high-living rich boy named Cristobal (Garcia Bernal), the film depicts a fun day in the life of Cristobal and his 17-year-old sister Elisa (Sodi) and their friends around the family swimming pool. The more riotous the fun the kids have cracking jokes and talking at the same time, however, the less fun it becomes for the audience, especially for any adults who might happen to be present, and even more especially given the poor technical quality of the sound recording.
And that's before they start drinking. Once the inevitable booze and drugs are introduced, it goes from bad to worse, and the audience is doomed. At this point, the film begins to resemble nothing so much as a video of American college kids on spring break in Florida, but the wet T-shirt contest that some bored males in the audience might be vaguely hoping for does not materialise.
It appears that the well-intentioned genesis for the story was to offer a social critique of the class divisions inherent in Mexican society, carrying on the soft-left politics of films like Amores Perros and Y Tu Mama Tambien, and indeed there is a residue of that in the script. This aspect of the story is embodied in Adan (Huerta Mejia), a working-class man of Indian origins who occupies the difficult position of gardener and Cristobal's lifelong friend.
The spoiled Cristobal - it takes a while to comprehend that we are supposed to really dislike this pathetic character who is incarnated in the always charming Garcia Bernal - is mostly occupied with juggling his girlfriend Mafer (Serradilla) and beautiful Argentinian girl Dolores (Cipriota), whom he's just met at the party. The script does allow some time for class divisions to surface, but only half-heartedly. A potentially promising sub-plot regarding the working-class family of caretakers is begun, then immediately dropped.
In general, the script is just too lightweight to score any real political points, or actually, points of any sort, and we learn at the very end that Cristobal's real problem is with his father, a shadowy and corrupt figure in the government whom we never meet.
Technical work in general is pretty weak, even beyond the sound, as Garcia Bernal and his cinematographer seem to have no idea where to put the camera. And you know you're in trouble when a film that runs only 75 minutes has to add an unconscionably long interlude of dancing and singing to fill things out.
Gael Garcia Bernal
Gael Garcia Bernal
Tenoch Huerta Mejia