Every man remembers how hard it is being 15 years old: Your voice is cracking, your hormones are raging, school is boring, the girl you love is a young prostitute who won't go out with you because you don't have enough cash, so you start smuggling drugs across the border in order to save enough money to buy a rooster so you can enter a cockfight and win her love. It's a tale as old as time itself. Tijuana Makes Me Happy, which won the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Slamdance Film Festival, is both a charming coming-of-age story and a celebration of the most infamous of all Mexican border towns. It's also a subtle criticism of society's lust for money and success and the lengths to which people will go to attain both. For the film's hero, Indio, the city's red-light district is a siren's song of erotic mystery. While just across the border - the "other side," as Tijuanans call it - lies a world of boundless economic possibility. In the middle resides Indio's loyalty to his ... Written by
A charming coming-of-age film with fantastic shots of the 'real' Mexico
Tijuana Makes Me Happy is a coming of age story shot with unprofessional actors in a quasi-documentary style. In the short span of time the film covers, fifteen year old Indio has to make decisions regarding sex, crime and friendship (with a rooster). The plot details are fairly simplistic and linear, but that certainly doesn't take away from the film in any way. That the film seemingly has no moral perspective about the dubious activities in the film, really gives the film more credit in my mind. It's light-hearted approach to activities such as cockfighting, prostitution and drug trafficking seems far more realistic and gripping when told by the amoral eye.
Perhaps I'm partial to films photographed in Mexico, however, given my love of Central America in general. Even the most ordinary scenes give me great pleasure when I see them on the screen because they are so different than America. I did appreciate the story (although, I could have lived without the spelling errors in the subtitles), but the vision of Tijuana and its inhabitants reeled me in.
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