La Tragedia de Macario

on April 02, 2005 by Ray Greene
A promising if inconsistent debut from San Antonio-based writer/director Pablo Véliz, "La Tragedia de Macario" uses magical realist components (a ranchero music song cycle describing the action with literal explicitness; recurring visions of the Virgin Mary) to tell the story of Macario, an illegal immigrant who dies a horrifying death by suffocation in an unventilated boxcar when a human trafficking "coyote" fails to appear to let Macario and a dozen others out of the train. A largely excellent cast seems at times a bit too young for its roles (this is particularly true of the lovely Tina Rodriguez as the Virgin Mary), and there are other signs of minimal budgeting and limited experience. But Veliz's eye for mundane detail and the importance of his theme transcend these limitations, and the central performances from Rogelio Ramos and Milicent Figueroa are graceful and assured.

Inspired by a real incident in which 19 illegal immigrants died a similar death, "La Tragedia de Macario" takes one of the great issues of our time and makes it human in scale. The suffocation scene is surely one of the most terrifying sequences that will appear in any movie shown this year. Starring Rogelio Ramos, Milicent Figueroa and Tina Rodriguez. Directed and written by Pablo Véliz. Produced by Jeff Horny. No distributor set. Drama. Spanish-language; subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 71 min

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