Today: April 20, 2024
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Abel Cinema Review

If Guillermo Del Toro is the godfather of contemporary Mexican
cinema, then Diego Luna and his buddy Gael Garcia Bernal are its
favourite sons.

The pair first came to international attention in Alfonso Cuaron’s Y Tu Mamá También,
although they were already both well known in their homeland. Since
then they have both been carving solid careers for themselves, not only
in front of the camera, but also behind it with their own production
company. They have produced a number of successful indie films for young
Latino filmmakers as well as their own films. Diego’s directorial debut
was a 2007 documentary on renowned Mexican boxing champion J.C. Chávez. His second film is a fictional feature, which he also wrote, called Abel.

This story may be a departure from commercial Mexican movies, which can only be a good thing,
but it firmly fits in with the recent wave of independent cinema coming
out of the country. Mexico’s proximity to the US means that it seems to
be excluded from the rest of the Latino renaissance happening in South
America, but shared language and cultural origins, it fits thematically
and visually, even if Mexico isn’t enjoying the same economic and
political resurgence its Bolivarian cousins are.

The eponymous Abel is a young boy, beautifully portrayed by Christopher Ruíz-Esparza,
who is totally withdrawn and lives in a hospital. His mother visits him
daily but he never speaks to her or anyone else. Because he is in a
women’s hospital, the doctor decides that as he is getting older he
needs to be transferred to a more appropriate institution in the city,
which would mean his mother would not be able to visit him, so she
decides to take him home with the hope that he will eventually come out
of his shell, which he does in spectacular fashion. One day he starts speaking, taking over the role of his estranged father to the extent that he calls his siblings his children. When his father returns, matters become complicated and he decides to run away with his little brother.

Taking over his father’s role, in all aspects of daily life, leads to some very funny moments and also some incredibly tense as well as moving moments.
While there is a temptation to look for parallels with the story of
Cain and Abel, because of the title, they don’t really exist and any
that were found would be fairly spurious. Of course, with any well-told
story there are going to be mythological elements and this film
certainly has some Oedipal moments. The film also feels like One Flew
Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in places.

For fans of art-house/world cinema this has a lot to offer, especially
for the fiction directorial debut from Luna, with interesting and
endearing characters, especially the lead, but anyone looking for a
movie with a typical Hollywood ending, this will not satisfy.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website: thekolsocial.com

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