A Gritty Drama from an Innovative Mexican Director
Mexican writer/director Leopoldo Laborde has made a number of low budget, challenging, controversial films, using his cadre of nonprofessional actors and crew and he is gathering a following for his courage and his unique style. SIN DESTINO is a good introduction to his work - a film about the seamy side of Mexico City's life told with verismo style that at times is difficult to watch but yet one that succeeds in conveying his story well.
Using a combination of black and white with intervals of color photography, SIN DESTINO follows the life of a fifteen-year old Francisco/Frank (Francisco Rey) who has been a sex worker since his desperate introduction to the desires of older men when he was nine years old. He regularly engages in same sex activity for money to pay for a drug habit that is out of control. His friend and dealer is the understanding David (David Valdez) who 'loans' Frank money and coke when Frank is desperate, but also feels the need to get Frank out of the sex market by introducing him to women: David believes that once Frank has sex with a woman he will forego his street ways and have a chance at life. Frank happens to view a blonde girl Angelica (Mariana Gaja) and for the first time feels attraction to women. David sets Frank up with a kind-hearted prostitute Perla (Sylvia Vilchis) who offers Frank understanding and tenderness even though Frank is unable to perform. Frank has disturbing dreams and visions of his initial initiation into the male hustler life by an older child pornographer Sebastian (Roberto Cobo) and these intensely ugly memories are mixed with his delusions of sexual encounters with Angelica: these scenes appear in color and make a fine contrast in the 'magical realism' vein.
David encourages Frank to bed Angelica and sells him (through money he will retrieve from an incidental reunion with Sebastian) a love potion that will assure his sexual success with Angelica. Frank visits Sebastian after a six-year absence, obtains the money through violent means, and has his desired hook up with Angelica that results in a cruel tragedy that completes the film. David remains at Frank's side through the sequelae that follow and the film ends on a dark note that all but extinguishes Frank's hope for a favorable destiny.
Laborde knows what he wants and opts for a crude, rough, seemingly spontaneous non-rehearsed style of acting from his crew. He is able to draw from Francisco Rey an empathetic character, a lad who is stuck in the quagmire of the slim that faces the poor kids of the big city. Laborde is even able to make his 'evil johns' such as Sebastian more than simply dark caricatures. His cinematographer Jorge Rubio Casarín is at all times in sync with Laborde's vision, even though the camera use is inordinately distracting with its play of light and dark at times. It is only after the film is over that Laborde's use of the fate, death and love potion motifs from Wagner's 'Tristan und Isolde' are appreciated, and that is an example of how much energy the writer/director has in his visions, a trait that suggests he may become a significant force in Mexican film-making. The film contains considerable violence, nudity, simulated sex scenes, drug use and harsh language, but one cannot imagine this story being told without those elements. In Spanish with English subtitles. Grady Harp
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