BristoLatino film editor Scarlett Sullivan saw Güeros, a retro portrait of Mexico by bold, new director Alonso Ruizpalacios
Paying homage to French New Wave cinema, Alonso Ruizpalacios’ Güeros tells the tale of Tomás (Sebastián Aguirre) and his unpredictable journey to find Epigmeneo Cruz (Alfonso Charpener) – a singer who was rumoured to once make Bob Dylan cry.
After dropping a water balloon onto a woman and her baby, Tomás’ mother decides to send the troubled teen away from his hometown of Veracruz, to stay with his brother, Federico, a.k.a. Sombra, in Mexico City. Sombra and his roommate Santos are detached from the outside world; while their fellow students are protesting at the Universidad Nacional, they are ‘on strike from the strike’. Only the voice of Ana, who hosts a pirate radio show, gives them some consolation.
The arrival of Tomás and his burning desire to find Epigmeneo Cruz triggers the unfurling of the plot, as the characters are whisked away from the chaos of the university to embark on their idiosyncratic journey.
The title of the film- an insightful joke referring to Tomás’ pale skin in contrast to his brothers’- features throughout. This motif is one of many subtle references, often intertwined with quirky witticisms and subplots, carefully positioned throughout Ruizpalacios’ film.
The story, set in 1999, is filmed in minimalistic black and white, creating an aesthetic that is both nostalgic and arthouse. The abruptness of shots and varying angles are occasionally unsettling, but Ruizpalacios is careful not to sacrifice substance for the sake of style. The young protagonists, and their growing relationships, remains the film’s consistent focus.
In particular, Güeros examines the relationship between brothers. Through the eyes of Tomás, Sombra is a respected and charismatic figure of authority. Ironically, however, it is the elder brother that is the more unhinged of the two.
Against the turbulent sociopolitical background of 1990s Mexico, Ruizpalacios has crafted a personal tale of brothers and friends- a group that begins to leave behind the troubles of their pasts and focus on the prospects of the future.
Check out the trailer and short interview with Ruizpalacios himself: