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Valentina has the perfect life in America. Her universe trembles when Jason, her boyfriend, proposes marriage and she must confront her family, the Hidalgo, the most chaotic and surreal political dynasty in the history of Mexico.
A Fun Adventure Despite Technical and Artistic Flaws
This was the first truly bilingual film I have ever seen. No, it's not merely a film where people talk in two languages. It's the first I've seen where the events unfold in two languages and the audience processes them accordingly. I didn't know what effect it would have on me at first, despite knowing both English and Spanish. However, after watching "Compadres", I saw that, if anything, it gave the film a richness that made it fun to watch.
Alas, after watching the film, I couldn't help but feel as though I just sat through a six-month telenovela hastily condensed into an hour-and-a-half work: The scope was clearly a grand one, but director Enrique Begne's execution suggested he was well out of his depth, since he botched quite a number of elements along the way. To wit, the editing appeared rushed and scattered, with some scenes leaving out plot-critical shots of items and people that are normally taken for granted in other films. The music was all over the place, ranging from twisted to tender, while an equally erratic score filled the crevices. Additionally, there were actions by the characters in certain scenes, such as Garza randomly kissing the waitress at the diner, that felt out of place; they were probably inserted just to extract a laugh from the audience when, truth be told, they didn't need to. Even the opening title credits looked half- baked, as though they came straight out of a student copy of Adobe Flash. These factors converged to derail the film's tone, leaving one convinced that Begne simply could not decide what flavor of story he wanted to tell. Maybe a glance at Quentin Tarantino's "Jackie Brown" could have helped.
And yet... you can't help but immerse yourself in the experience, despite the above lapses in judgment. Omar Chaparro (as the stoic Mexican cop Garza) and Joey Morgan (as the bumbling but good-hearted computer hacker Vic) make for an enjoyably discordant duo, showing that strong characters backed by capable actors do matter. The desolate landscapes and grimy city scenes add to the alienation that slowly grates on Garza and Vic. In the face of relentless backstabbing and setbacks, their budding friendship is the only thing left that they believe in, and that modicum of hope is just enough to push them forward, to search for the truth, to save each other's lives. Said tribulations have their own share of twists and surprises (with competent explanations on the side) to mystify but not confuse. The story that pierces through the poor choices made by the filmmakers successfully keeps the audience in the game and endears the lively cast of characters to the moviegoers.
By the end of the film, you'll want to see Garza and Vic head out for another adventure, one you would gladly pay a matinée ticket for. Hopefully, some better production personnel will be in tow.
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