I caught this fun, strange ride at the Houston Multi-Cultural International Film Festival, where it won the Audience Choice Award. The fun came from story's lighthearted irreverence, and the strange part was Martin Delon's somewhat off beat sense of humor.
That being said, the strengths of "La Taqueria" were in its universal themes. The Taqueria, the eponymous eatery, is not just a local business. Symbolically, its a place where the community congregates to share common culture, hopes, dreams and everyday problems.
Like other working class ethnic iconoclasts, "Car Wash" and "Barbershop", "La Taqueria" challenges stereotypes by turning them on their heads and emphasizes universal themes. Rather than setting off the subject ethnic group from the "general" audience, the story relies on things everyone can understand; love, anger, jealousy, honor and pride. Some might describe these films as "over the top", but that's only the result of a cursory, uninitiated analysis.
Flor, the owner of the Taqueria, her employees, and the people who frequent it and their stories are all rough around the edges, but so are we all. She runs a square business, yet can't seem to find true love. Not from her unfaithful paramour, the lothario of a head chef in her employ, and not from a handsome young poet who frequents her establishment.
From this central hub spin several character vignettes that range from charming to somewhat disjointed. A lowly cook who can't catch a break and secretly fantasizes about exotically beautiful women, nefarious cops, a burly patron given to ill advised feats of gastronomy, competitive and even combative waitresses, a heavily symbolic homeless kid who takes refuge in the Taqueria, and even a flamboyant pimp showing off his stable are all part of the tapestry that is "La Taqueria".
Martin Delon does a good job weaving this story together and should be commended on a fine first effort.
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