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|Index||11 reviews in total|
This is a film set in present day Mexico City, where the teen aged main
characters have little to live for except maybe drugs and sex. The main
character is named Rufino, who learns that his father might be alive, and
even though he had always been told otherwise, he becomes obsessed with
finding him. Near the beginning of the film he comes into some drug money
that shouldn't really be his, so he tells his girlfriend Xóchitl that she,
her son, and Rufino can get away from the city, perhaps to see the ocean
the first time.
But no one in this film really goes anywhere. The Ferris Wheel that they ride near the beginning of the film is the perfect image, since it goes around and around, but there is no real escape. Everyone is just getting by, living day to day.
The acting by Maya Zapata (Xóchitl) and Luis Fernando Peña (Rufino) is excellent, and the rest of the young cast is also very natural. The camera is mostly handheld and the feel is very realistic and gritty.
The first time director was not at the screening where I saw this at the San Francisco International Film Festival on 4/24/2002, but the SFFS person did read some comments from him, which included the words "open wound." I think that sums up the film, which is worth seeing but is certainly not uplifting.
As a first-time reviewer, I'll do my best: This movie gently warmed my heart, then tore it out. Almost documentary in style and realism, I was lost immediately in the story. Reminiscent of "Amores Perros," and, more distantly, of "Y Tu Mama, Tambien," this is a tale of forgotten vagabonds in Mexico City, their loves and hopes and desperate acts. Although fictional, you know these lives exist, and that realization is almost too horrible to comprehend. I cried. Don't let this deter you, though. Wait until you're in a pensive mood, then watch. Hopefully you'll be a better person after. True art.
Director, Gerardo Tort develops a raw human portrait of today's urban
slum. "De la Calle" literally translated means "Of the Streets", and
suitably so as Tort deals with one of the most disturbing and complex
issues: Children living on the streets of Mexico City.
The storyline of two teenagers, Rufino and Xochitl, whose desire is to escape the cruel lifestyle of the streets, is the vehicle used to tour the lives of a marginalized people and experience a glimpse of their ruthless reality. As it seems that there is no possible form of social mobility, the viewer is intrigued by Rufino's proposal of relocating and beginning a new life. This notion is paused by the discovery that Rufino's father might be alive. Their circumstances become more inconceivable as the film progresses.
Tort uses a hand-held camera to take the viewer to undesirable real places, otherwise unknown to the outsider. His use of lighting techniques, the stark contrast between light and dark, symbolizes the extreme disparity of the social economic classes that persist in Mexico. Tort also uses this minimal lighting to convey other critical issues of a Latin American nation: social immobility, corruption at different levels in society, family violence, drugs, rape, and poverty.
"De la Calle" is the child of Tort's original theatrical play, created more than a decade ago to raise awareness about social conditions in the heart of Mexico City. Tort was unable to continue showing the play due to restrictions imposed by authorities. Tort takes a risk by continuing this play as a motion picture. He portrays the painful life of a marginalized people as a form of art, unmasking core issues of the homeless, parent-less, and broken. Thus, Tort inspires others to rise up against the vicious cycles of social injustices.
Gerardo Tort's "De La Calle" is an emotionally powerful film that never
seems to reach greatness. The story is about Rufino, a teen living in
poverty in Mexico City, trying to escape a life full of drugs and
corrupt cops. The film shares a lot of the same themes with Brazilian
film "Cidade de Deus." However, Fernando Merilles' experience, makes
"Cidade de Deus" the superior film of the two.
Right away it is clear that Tort wanted a very gritty and dirty look to his film, which adds to the atmosphere of hopelessness. The opening shots of the kids in dirty clothes set the bar for the rest of the film. Tort went for natural lighting which gave the film a dark but realistic feel to it. The camera is held in a hand held style resulting in some shakiness, but the shakiness never becomes overwhelming. The screen was full of dull colors which gave it a gloomy vibe. Overall the film looked exactly how it should for a film such as this.
The film's 88 minute run time feels somewhat rushed through. The characters don't feel fleshed out, which take away from the films emotional beats. Emotionally moving scenes like the conditions the kid's live in lose some of their impact because the viewer is left wondering why they should care. The acting on the other hand is very solid across the board. The young actors, led by Luis Peña and Maya Zapata, feel like they are playing themselves, not playing characters.
Filled with solid acting and a gritty look, Gerardo Tort's "De La Calle" is a solid film. His inexperience as a director shows by what feels like a rushed plot and somewhat lacking character development. It is an average film that could have been better with a different director at the helm. However, if you have about 90 minutes to kill and are interested in seeing a how bleak things are in Mexico City, this movie warrants a viewing.
De la Calle is a moving film about the street kids of Mexico City.
Through this film we see poverty, drug use and corruption. The main
character, Rufino, begins with the film with the dream of leaving the
horrors of street life in Mexico City, but gets blind sided with the
idea of finding his real father. We see poverty and drug use through
the street kids that live under the city. The corruption comes through
strongly in the police involvement in the sale of drugs. This is
exactly what gets Rufino in trouble, when he steals drug money to
fulfill his dream of leaving the city.
This film has a documentary feel, showing "real" street life in Mexico City, although it is a work of fiction. We see the chaotic life of living on the street in any city but what makes this film unique to Mexico City and Mexican culture is the fact that these street kids are a family. Rufino and his friends refer to each other as brothers. Xochitl, Rufino's girlfriend takes care of the younger street kids as a mother, even though she has a son of her own, that she is kept from her because she "can't" take care of him. This idea of family is even stronger during Rufino's relentless search for his real father; many of his brothers ask him why, as to say we are your family. When Rufino is violated towards the end of the film and it is shown to the audience that his attacker is in fact is real father it just reiterates that his true family is with the street kids.
In Mexican film we are living a fatalist era, which is not all that bad and
it is a part of our country and our culture, like Amores Perros which is the
best known, among others. De la calle is a good film, it goes to the guts of
the problem without compromising deeper, which is OK, but there are many
more arms to this octopus, there are worst cases.
Very good narrative, good directing, very good editing and the story is... well, average, because if your going to put a story on film, I think it has to go beyond what we already know.
More than a good effort, it's a good movie, but I would do more with the story.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If someone were compiling films about poverty and despair in the Western Hemisphere, I would definitely recommend De la Calle. Two other films to include (which this one reminded me of) would be Cidade De Deus and The Harder They Come. As I recall, someone in all of these films is doomed from the start. In De la Calle, the lead character consistently makes phenomenally bad decisions, leaving his girlfriend, whose instincts are relatively good, to suffer the consequences. It would have been nice if they actually did go to the ocean; the fresh air would have done them good, and the resulting film would have been just as engaging and probably more enjoyable.
I saw this film at the LATINO film festival in Hollywood, CA and the experiance was great and the movie was very powerful. Both the director and writer were there after the film and reinforced what was clear throughout the movie that this movie came directly form the heart and nothing would compromise that. Many people in the industry wanted the director to change the morbid ending.
This is a film that use poverty to shock. Children that live in the streets of Mexico, of course that´s a hard life, but that´s not enough for a movie. The story is very simple, but there´s not the problem, the first role actors are not credible, you can not feel any passion. Many years ago there was a Director who made a film of children living in the streets of Mexico, his name: Buñuel, the film "Los olvidados". You can see the difference, and you can understand why a film needs a director.
The story of the movie talks about the poor people from Mexico city... but what I can only see in the movie is dirty people... having a kind of life... I guess that the Director of this movie was not so informed by the context about the story. The actors where OK, but there are movies from Mexico that are much better than this. I remember the movie Black and White and is a bit similar... just that this Mexican movie is with garbage and pollution.
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