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Mercedes (Marga Lopez) dances for money with the clients of Salon Mexico, a famous cabaret in Mexico City. Her younger sister Beatriz (Derbez) studies in an expensive private school, paid by Mercedes. Obviously, young Beatriz doesn't know about her sister's job. Troubles begin when Mercedes wins a danzon contest with Paco (Acosta), her pimp. Paco refuses to share the prize with Mercedes, so she steals the money when he's sleeping. Written by
Maximiliano Maza <email@example.com>
The star of the film is really Figueroa's cinematography. He turns a few recurring motifs (e.g the dance sequences, the staircase to the heroine's apartment) into anchors. That and the rock-solid acting help give the melodramatic plot enough weight to work as a sort of lower-class tragedy. The story is simple. A woman works as a dance hall girl in order to put her sister through boarding school, the sister's only chance to make it out of the otherwise impenetrable class barrier. She runs into trouble with a third-rate hoodlum over some money they win in a dance contest. That relationship eventually undoes her. Figueroa shoots the film in high-contrast black and white with intensive use of spot lighting. This gives even continuous group scenes something of the feeling of montage. This gives him a continuous palette of edits ranging from soviet-style montage, to rapid cut closeups of individuals lit by themselves, to medium range scenes where the characters are foregrounded and backgrounded using spots, all the way to simple outdoor scenes shot in natural lighting (reserved for moments when we are in or near high-society). The music is quite good. The egregiously sexual dances give one a much clearer sense of the emotions driving the Salon than any description could. The bookend mariachi "Si Juarez.." (If Juarez had not died) is amazingly poignant close to the story. This film belongs to a rather common genre in Mexican cinema: the cabaretera film (stories about lower class women who work in dancehalls). Two other examples worth watching from the same genre, both available on DVD: La Aventurera, and Victima del Pecado.
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