Dir/scr: JorgeRamirez-Suarez. Mex-UK. 2005. 114mins.
A tightly-paced politicalthriller, Rabbit On The Moon opened to peppy reviews and buoyant boxoffice takings on its home release in Mexico last October. A rare Mexico-UKco-production, it proves to be a hardworking film with some rough edges but asurefire genre instinct. Its overseas prospects will not be harmed by its dualMexico-UK setting and dialogue in both Spanish and English - although theMexico City scenes have a tad more bite and visual style.
But it would be a mistake topitch Rabbit On The Moon as the next Amores Perros or Y TuMama Tambien: this is less of an arthouse crossover than a small mainstreamtitle, with good prospects for auxiliary sales.
Rabbit On The Moon derives much of its initial impetus by dramatising abourgeois nightmare: a nice young couple with a nice new house and a nice newbaby are suddenly caught up by pure accident in a murder plot.
British citizen Julie(Pilkington, from Human Traffic) and Antonio (Bichir) have committed nocrime, but a cheque found in the possession of a fixer who does dirty work fora Mexican political party implicates Antonio in the assassination of adissident politician. The murder was ordered by top brass in the party, andAntonio is chosen as the scapegoat.
Persuaded to flee by hislawyer friend Alfredo (Murray, from Amores Perros), Antonio flies toLondon, convinced that his wife and baby are safe inside the British Embassy.In reality, they are being kept prisoner by a corrupt police chief who is inthe pay of the party.
Pilkington and Bichir arewell cast as the two leads, but one of the real pleasures of the film - and thescript - are the nuanced character parts, like Julie's gaoler Ramirez (Ochoafrom Nicotina), a sadistic but cultured man with a taste for kinky sex.
No names are named in thefilm, but like the political satire La Ley de Herodes, which was alsohandled by Mexican indie producer Gussi Films, the story is a clear referenceto the climate of corruption that was fostered under the PRI, which dominatedMexican politics for seven decades before opposition candidate Vicente Fox wonpower in 2000.
However, the Brits come offlittle better; the Embassy guard's refusal to open the gates almost does forJulie when she does eventually seek refuge there, and a sub-sub-plot aboutmoney-laundering by the Ministry of Defence seems designed to establish a kindof moral par condicio.
Shot on high-definitiondigital, the film hits the ground running: for the first half hour or so, thereare almost no scenes that last longer than 30 seconds; and this breathless paceis backed up by a quickfire, in-your-face shooting style. There is a slightdrop of pace at the beginning of the London section, but the tension is sooncranked up again as we cut back and forth between an increasingly anguishedAlfredo and the equally frantic Julie in her prison cell.
Part of the film's messageis how innocents are corrupted by contact with the corrupt, forced to adopt thewarped mentality of their persecutors in order to survive. The limp finalcourtroom scenes are one of the few weakness of an otherwise red-hot script;such a punchy thriller needs a stronger ending.
Prod cos: Head Gear Films, Beanca Films
Int'l sales: Capitol Films
Exec prod: Compton Ross
Prods: Phil Hunt, Greg Cruttwell,Jorge Ramirez-Suarez
Cine: Luis Sansans Arnanz
Prod des: Bernardo Trujillo,Charlie Tymms
Ed: Alex Rodriguez
Music: Eduardo Gamboa
Main cast: Bruno Bichir, LorrainePilkington, Jesus Ochoa, Adam Kotz, Alvaro Guerrero, Rodrigo Murray, EmmaCunniffe