Elvira, I’d Give You My Life, But I’m Using It

Elvira, I’d Give You My Life, But I’m Using It movie poster

Elvira, I’d Give You My Life, But I’m Using It poster

Manolo Caro’s movie starts with a pretty simple and cruel premise: Gustavo (Carlos Bardem), a middle-aged husband and father of two, kisses his wife Elvira (Cecila Suárez) goodbye to go get cigarettes and never comes back.

From there, we follow Elvira’s journey as she relentlessly looks for him, not to bring him back but rather to understand his motivations and find closure.

What’s striking about Elvira, I’d Give You My Life But I’m Using It is that it’s a Mexican film that doesn’t look like a Mexican movie. While the story is taking place in Mexico City and Acapulco, the film has been stripped of signature Mexican – cinema and real-life – elements, whether it’s in terms of style, tone, theme and setting.

From Elvira’s apartment to a funeral home and restaurants, everything seems to happen in a middle-class bubble that has a definitive European feel to it. This approach, which might be surprising at first, doesn’t try to ignore what Mexico is known for – poverty, crime and a colorful life among other things – but rather aims at doing two things: First it provides a neutral, interchangeable environment which underlines that this story could happen anywhere in the world. Most importantly, it emulates – or if you prefer pays homage to – Spanish cinema, which explains so much about Elvira, I’d Give You My Life But I’m Using It. With its characters who almost look like “gringos”, its use of metaphors, its dark comedic tone and its taste for eccentricities, Mr. Caro’s work makes you feel like you’re watching a Spanish movie. And while some might argue that he somewhat denies his origins, he certainly has the right to make film that looks like it’s set miles away from cliches such as crime and corruption which would distract from Elvira’s quest.

With quite a heavy premise, the filmmaker made sure to plant enough amusing details to not overwhelm spectators with sadness. I particularly enjoyed Elvira’s crying at other people’s funerals as a surrogate for her grief, the omnipresence of the intrusive but always helpful neighbor and the constant exchange of money.

That said, despite Elvira’s running around and plenty of good ideas, Elvira, I’d Give You My Life But I’m Using It tends to suffer from a pace problem, advancing quite slowly and thus failing at fully sustaining your attention. And while the conclusion seems like the best way for Elvira to move on, you can’t help feeling that, in the end, this was an enjoyable but somewhat minor adventure.

Director: Manolo Caro – Actors: Cecilia Suárez, Luis Gerardo Mendez – Running Time: 1:34 – Year: 2015 – Country: Mexico
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Fred Thom

Fred Thom

Editor-in-Chief/Founder/Film Critic at Plume Noire
The founder and editor-in-chief of Plume Noire, Fred Thom covers film festivals and writes movie reviews. He was born in Marseilles, France and is now living in Los Angeles, California.