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Mestizo (1988)

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A village on the Venezuelan coast, a place of fishermen and big haciendas. Aquiles Vargas, a white aristocrat in somewhat reduced circumstances, fights with Cruz Guaregua, a humble black ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Marcos Moreno ...
El Mestizo Jose Ramon Vargas
Zezé Motta ...
Cruz Guaregua, mestizos's mother
Aldo Tulian ...
Aquiles Vargas
Nancy González ...
La mujer del Juez
Víctor Cuica ...
Pachu
Omar Gonzalo ...
Juez
Eduardo Gil ...
Tio Ramon
Hilda Vera ...
Tia Milita
Gonzalo Cubero ...
Parucho
Darcy D'Sus ...
Ana Maria Pavan
Elisa Heymann ...
Josefina
Pascal Marcos ...
Junior White
Raúl Medina ...
El bobo Cheche
Isabel Mijares ...
Sirvienta de los White
Raymundo Mijares ...
Chuito Guaregua
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A village on the Venezuelan coast, a place of fishermen and big haciendas. Aquiles Vargas, a white aristocrat in somewhat reduced circumstances, fights with Cruz Guaregua, a humble black fisherwoman, and mother of his only son, a half-caste 'mestizo'. Vargas takes the Mestizo away to raise him as a white, with his Aunt Milita as foster-mother. As an adolescent, the 'mestizo' Jose Ramon is propelled by his bohemian Uncle Ramon towards poetry, but Aquiles takes him to be 'civilized' in the local courthouse. There he is taken into a perverse relationship with the judge's wife, while the judge watches. Jose Ramon escapes, horrified, but in his naivety finds himself in love with the judge's wife. But the situation is impossible. Jose Ramon tries in vain to be a fisherman, but fights with his mother. Aunt Milita sends a servant girl to seduce him and bring him back home. Everybody, beginning with Cruz, tries to save him. But the social and sexual conflicts, power, culture and the Law, and ... Written by Anonymous

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racism | based on novel | See All (2) »

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Drama

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Release Date:

October 1988 (Venezuela)  »

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User Reviews

 
An excellent film
14 October 2001 | by (Saint Paul, MN) – See all my reviews

It begins with a scene without context, and then proceeds for a good quarter of an hour somewhat randomly, but then it pulls itself together and ends up being very good. Actually, I now have an inkling that, if I were to see it again, those opening 20 minutes or so would seem a lot better and the film would be nearly a masterpiece.

Mestizo (a word that I don't remember ever being defined, by the way) is a Venezuelan film about the son of a wealthy, white man and a poor black woman whose people are fishermen. This boy is named Jose Ramon, and he lives in an extremely confusing society. He is brought up as a white man, though he is visibly mulatto. The aristocratic community, with whom his father is trying to assimilate him, does not entirely trust him. Later in the film, when he tries to live amongst the community of black fishermen, they trust him even less.

SPOILERS: Eventually, Jose's boss, a judge, leads his wife, Gregorina, into sleeping with Jose, which arouses the judge. This is Jose's first sexual experience, and from that point on sex runs his life. He believes that he loves Gregorina, and he convinces her and three other white women, daughters and wives of rich, white men, to take a boat ride with him and another black man. The sequence in the boat, where the six of them play a game where they similize the moon convinced me that the film was very good; it's a brilliantly edited sequence.

Soon, Jose figures out that Gregorina and the other white women were only slumming. And because he took his relationship with her so far, his boss fires him. His father, who wants to mold him into a respectable aristocrat despite his African roots, verbally assaults him over the affair. Jose runs away to his mother, who also kicks him out of the fishing village when he allows the other fishermen to rip off his share of the profits. He does this, obviously, because he has never needed money. Now he does, and he won't take it. His mother is offended that her son is just a chump, and that he is treating the fisherman's life as only a game.

With both of his potential homes off limits, he becomes a homeless man on the beach. It's an idyllic life, but he misses people, well, more specifically, sex with women. In the film's most amusing scene, he builds a woman out of sand. When the scene opens, you see Jose resting in the sun, but there's an odd lump of sand closer to the camera with some bits of driftwood or seaweed on top of it. Then Jose begins to caress the sand, and we realize that he has sculpted a woman (we only see it from the hips down). He has used driftwood and seaweed as pubic hair! He brushes his hand and fingers over the faux crotch, but he sharply pulls his hand off of it. The pubes fall off, and under them is a crippled tarantula, pushing itself along with its few working legs. It is a spectacular scene, lasting only a minute, if even that long.

Eventually, he is convinced to come home (by sex), and his father apologizes. He has planned to send Jose to Caracas (I can't remember the name of their town (maybe it's Mestizo!), but it's a rather small fishing village) to learn law. Before Jose leaves, he visits his mother, who also forgives him and wishes him good luck. As he stands on the ship to Caracas (which is contrasted with the small fisherman's boat that he has used so often elsewhere in the film, including the preceding scene), his racial conflict has been solved: he is now a white man, in a white suit and smoking a cigar. He tips a black man for helping him. But the solution has rough edges: he begins to hear the sounds of the city in his head, and they disturb him greatly. We end with this notion.

END SPOILER: The style and rhythm of the film is akin to French New Wave films, which means it's quite choppy. Some shots are on and off so quickly that they never have time to register, which is a problem a few times during the film. The acting is exquisite. Marcos Moreno plays Jose Ramon Vargas to perfection, and everyone else is as good. The direction, by Mario Handler, is quite good, especially during the boat ride I mentioned and the sex scenes that follow it. Perhaps someday others will have a chance to see it. I implore you to do so. I myself really want to see it once more, to see if the beginning was as bad as I perceived it to be. My guess is that the previous film that I had watched, the awful Natal da Portelo from Brazil, was still influencing my mind for the first 20 or 30 minutes of Mestizo, because I had a lot of the same criticisms. To think, I nearly left the theater (it was a double feature) after Natal da Portelo ended! Thank God I was too lazy to get up off my butt! I give it a 9/10.


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