A surprisingly well crafted debut feature from Mexico City director Alonso Ruizpalacios, Güeros follows three young men – 2 brothers and a friend – on a journey involving self-discovery, political consciousness and musical heritage.

The film opens with a somewhat deplorable sequence where younger brother Tomás (Sebastián Aguirre) drops a water balloon from a roof on a stroller passing by. From there, his mom sent him to live with his older sibling Sombra (Tenoch Huerta) and his roommate Santos (Leonardo Ortizgris). Together, they will take the road, going through a succession of troubles, joining a student protest and looking for a forgotten singer.

What’s interesting with Güeros’ script is that it doesn’t follow your typical path. While you could expect that the two older guys would help Tomás grow as a person, they’re not really role model-material either, the three stooges ending up learning as much from each other as from the situations they are facing.

What’s particularly striking about this movie is how writer/director Alonso Ruizpalacios was able to deliver a well-thought-out work, which works finely on two levels. If you simply follow its straightforward narrative, it can be seen as an adventure emphasizing bonding, political engagement and the influence of music.  Just watched at this level, this already has all the elements that make it a solid debut, from humor to emotions and commentary. However, what pushes Güeros way beyond the boundaries of a simple movie is how much effort Mr. Ruizpalacios put into embracing some specific film movements, even including a post-modern twist.

Using a rich black and white photography and meticulous shots, he addresses cinephiles directly, showcasing his influences, from French new wave – think Shoot the Piano Player, Band of Outsiders – to silent cinema and the likes of Jim Jarmush (Down by Law) and Wim Wenders. He even puts a scene where the protagonists meet some film students and talk about making pretentious black and white movies. With this self-mocking scene reflecting his own work, he seems to acknowledge a necessary rite of passage to get respect from his peers. But while lots of young filmmakers fail by being too self-important and vain– trust me I’ve been enduring my share of such works at film festivals –he simply succeeds by finding the right balance between humor, entertainment, artistry and commentary reaching both regular spectators and cinephiles alike.

Director: Alonso Ruizpalacios – Actors: Tenoch Huerta, Sebastián Aguirre – Running Time: 1:46 – Year: 2014 – Country: Mexico
Click here to watch the Güeros trailer
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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.
Fred Thom

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