Dir: Francisco Athié, 1993. Starring: Roberto Sosa, Lucha Villa, Esperanza Mozo. Cine en Español.

This is the kind of movie that was made with various limitations that must be taken into account. I’ll lay all the flaws out on the line, and in the end you can be the judge. The lighting is horrendous, but due to the grizzly subject matter it works. I can’t imagine what kind of equipment they used, but many of the scenes are shot at night, which normally boosts a film’s budget by several degrees. The camera work, however, is awesome. I’m not sure how that’s possible, but I’d love to see how they crafted the various overhead shots and rotational pans, similar to some popular French films and 360 shots that Spike Lee used in the '90s. You could say that the darkness provides a good storytelling device for this film, seeing as how it has some very violent scenes, but there were honestly some shots where I could hardly see the characters or follow what was going on. The music is interestingly different, spanning from Mexican hard rock/punk to boleros, but it does lack proper placement and flow. The film is also fairly short and resolved with a bit of haste.

Now, if the above would not deter you from taking a look, I think you’d be as pleased with the film as I was. Instead of writing this review in a regular sense, I'd like to add a bit of analysis, which will better explain why I like it so much. Without spoiling the entire plot for you - or the ending - I'd say that if you are annoyed by religious overtones and metaphors in films, this might not be a movie you'd like. My next statement might not be as easily swallowed by some people, but certain elements in the film's plot and emotive efforts reminds me of two of my favorite movies, Pixote and Mulholland Drive. This is not a comparison, but simply an automatic mental note. It reminds me of the slum-element and young protagonist of Pixote (along with the poor production); but with Mulholland Drive, the resemblance for me is in the importance of a key object. In David Lynch's movie, it is the blue box and key that holds the fate for the lead characters and alters their past and future. In a similar sense, a golden watch and a pair of red sneakers are two simple props from which all the events in this movie can be pivoted.

Dolores (Roberto Sosa) is an 18-year-old boy in Mexico. The film opens with him and his family celebrating his mother's (Lucha Villa) birthday. For her gift, the children have given her a gold-plated watch, which she receives gracefully. Lolo (Dolores's nickname) returns to work at his factory job, where he savagely produces various metals in order to contribute to his family. Due to their poverty and his mother’s inability to make ends meet, she secretly pawns her watch for extra money around the same time that Lolo decides to ask for a raise. Moments after receiving his pay he is mugged by the police at the request of his spiteful supervisor, and while in the hospital, is fired for missing work without notice. While unemployed he wanders aimlessly about the town, seething with bitterness, until he notices Sonia (Esperanza Mozo), a new girl in town.

At first things are finally going well for Lolo, and his relationship with Sonia and his group of punk friends is enough to make him forget his troubles. Among them is his sister, who gives him a red pair of sneakers which will be of great importance to the rest of the plot. While hanging out with the gang and Sonia at a theater, Lolo is attacked and severely injured again. Cooped up in the house, he overhears his mother confessing that she pawned her golden watch. Once he is in better shape he goes to the pawnshop at night and decides to get the watch back. He finds the watch and a large sum of cash, but is stumbled upon by one of the lenders and kills her in a fit of shock. It seems as though he has gotten away with the crime until a witness comes forward with a clue. Though she could not identify the thief, she did notice that he was wearing a red pair of hi-top sneakers. Without thinking about the shoes, or the blood on them, Lolo trades them with another young boy and doesn’t give the incident any more consideration. From here the plot spirals into a shameless display of violence and betrayal as Lolo's cousin, a corrupt police officer, desperately wants to get his hands on the stolen money, while revisiting his shady past with Lolo's friend and his joy of corrupting youth. The only person willing to sacrifice her happiness and well-being for him is Sonia, whose virginity and innocence is jeopardized in order to try and get them safely out of town.

Sonia's role in the movie resembles the Virgin Mary, in the various interpretations of her, be it a mother, savior, or a whore. The symbolism used to solidify her as a savior, though set against the maculate conditions of their Mexican town, is exactly the kind of brilliant storytelling that should be used more often. While it is subtle and, for some, unnoticeable, it is a collection of gestures and moments that allows you to be invested in the characters and have a sense of familiarity. Mozo and Sosa both deliver strange, almost fragmented performances. At the closing of the film they are pieced together and stay with you—continuing to pick at something that should have a name, but doesn’t. Lolo is the only film that comes up under Mozo's acting career and she did an outstanding job. While her co-star Sosa has had a much more vigorous career, the two had great chemistry and pacing. I'm not familiar with the director's work, but I hope to find other films of his that were done with better technology and funding. The story is well worth your attention, even though it was made with little support and backing. This condition, which is normally a hindrance, did not take away from the film's power. If that can be said, the movie's energy alone is enough to see it through just about any serious audience.

Posted by:
Edythe Smith
Sep 7, 2010 9:23pm
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