A family tragedy in modern Mexico

Daniel and Ana

on August 27, 2010 by Richard Mowe

Don't be fooled by the title; this sounds like it could be a RomCom but instead it's a hard-hitting kidnap drama about the events that destroy the lives of a brother and sister. The feature debut for Mexican shorts and commercials director Michel Franco pulls no punches, but life beyond the festival circuit would appear limited. This film is only for those with strong constitutions and a penchant for painstaking details.

All seems fine and dandy as Ana (Marimar Vegae) prepares to wed her sweetheart Rafa (Jose Maria "Chema" Torre). Surrounded by her family, Ana's looking forward to her new marital state and the possibility of moving to Spain.

As she heads out in her car on errands with her brother, Daniel (Dario Yazbek Bernal), the two are approached at gunpoint by a gang of kidnappers who compel them to come an anonymous house. There, the gang forces them to have sex with each other on camera.

The director spares us none of the gruesomely unacceptable details, which, because the act happens early on, could be a repellent to some audiences. There is also confusion in the proliferation of characters introduced, as their relations or relevance to each other are not always properly explained.

The siblings have little choice in the matter. Once they are freed, they simply return to their daily lives. The authorities are not alerted which is apparently a common feature of such cases. Their unsuspecting parents never discover what happened but the lasting psychological damage that follows the ordeal informs most of the film.

Dario Yazbek Bernal (the younger half-brother of Gael Garcia) proves to be as talented as his older sibling, while Marimar Vega, whose background is in television, offers a sensitive portrayal of Ana that suggests she should have a bright future.

Apparently underground porn is prevalent in Mexico and it mostly involves adolescents. The deeds are rarely reported out of shame and remorse but the results are widely circulated in a multi-media environment. As a result the film leaves a chilling and bitter after-taste.

Distributor: Strand Releasing
Cast: Dario Yazbek Bernal, Marimar Vega and Jose Maria "Chema" Torre
Director/Screenwriter: Michel Franco
Producer: Daniel Birman Ripstein
Genre: Drama
Rating: Unrated
Running time: 90 min.
Release date: August 27 NY

Tags: Dario Yazbek Bernal, Marimar Vega, Jose Maria "Chema" Torre, Michael Franco, Daniel Birman Ripstein

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