The love story between a top model from New York, a Mexican scuba diver and a shark.

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Roberto Balderas ...
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Alejandro Martinez ...
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Rafaela Martinez ...
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Robin Sidney ...
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Robyn Sidney ...
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Felix Tornes ...
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Storyline

How did a poor Mexican scuba diver get to marry an American top model? What was she looking for when she drove from New York to Acapulco with her 3 year old son? What happened to that white freckly boy who grew up in a world that reminded him everyday that he was a foreigner? Using a legendary shark hunt in the late seventies as our story's core, we will meet the Martinez Sidney family and discover the secrets of their peculiar past. They will also show us a bigger picture of a new view of the Mexican-American relationship. Written by La Sombra del Guayabo

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4 March 2011 (USA)  »

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MXN 3,000,000 (estimated)
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Acapulco blues
3 May 2013 | by (Mexico City) – See all my reviews

With only 1 hour and 10 minutes the Mexican documentary VUELVE A LA VIDA (Carlos Hagerman, 2010), still playing at Mexico City's Cineteca Nacional, make us understand the essence of a peculiar man known as the "perro largo" ("the large dog"), as well as that of the old Acapulco, that paradise place that people from Mexico City and the US too chose for vacation or even to live. With only 1 hour and 10 minutes, VUELVE A LA VIDA also manages to offer a look to Mexico through American eyes and a great reflection that touches themes like nationality and defines the word "home". Yes, it's a quick documentary, but without a doubt it'll remain with you much more time than any of the recent Mexican fictions (like LLUVIA DE LUNA or 5 DE MAYO, THE BATTLE).

The protagonist, a diving expert from Acapulco, is omnipresent thanks to stories and memories from those who knew him while he was still alive. Those stories are about his experiences but we have as well those that he used to tell, some completely fictional that nevertheless have survived and now are immortal thanks to cinema. It's a BIG FISH (Tim Burton, 2003) sort- of thing, with the "dog" who, just like Edward Bloom, told stories full of fantasy (apparently a manta ray was in love with him!), although his main one, related with the sea and its big fishes, was lived by all of Hagerman's interviewees – a story about the hunting of a big fish (a shark in fact) that treated the Acapulco bay in times of JAWS (Steven Spielberh, 1975) and TINTORERA (René Cargona Jr., 1977 – regarded as the Mexican rip-off of the mentioned Spielberg picture, with the real Hugo Stiglitz!).

The documentary is mostly told from the conversations with two key people in the dog's life: his wife Robyn (a former model from the US) and his stepson John (who was also the film's DP). They are the protagonists of the other issues of the film, the one that's related with the US certainly. Robyn is the beautiful model (and junkie) who decided to live the "Mexican dream" and went to the Acapulco paradise. And John, the little blond kid who grew up far away from home, surrounded by dark-skinned people, and who learned to speak Spanish like any Mexican (although he now lives in LA).

Hagerman uses some resources, like doing some sort of recreation of the facts and filming musical moments, but what stands out more is the spontaneity of his characters (like the man who firmly believes in aliens). Something curious is that at the beginning the typography used seems antiquated, almost giving the film a cheap look, but that is forgotten thanks to a nice ending, with the creation of the family tree and the cool credits that show what you need for a "vuelve a la vida" dish (the production crew and needs are listed as it they were food ingredients – "you need 3 extra cameramen and 3 years of editing", something like that).

This is the type of documentary that will make you accept its imperfections – Hagerman is a filmmaker who says something like "it doesn't matter that the noise ruined my shot, I'll use it anyway". It's a lot of fun too, with a truly interesting mix of cultures that can be resumed when we see the "dog" (the typical man from Acapulco) and at the same time we hear his stepson playing a blues (typical American music).

*Watched it on 27 April, 2013


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