Saturday, April 16, 2016

Steep Decline


Produced By: Independent
Director: Adrian Aldaz
Starring: Raul Rodriguez, Juan Laoiza, Marisol Reyes, Mayra Gil and others
Pros: Good story, decent acting
Cons: Bad ending
Rating: *** of 5 (3 of 5)
Mostly in Spanish with a little English

In the spectrum of coming-of-age stories, you have The Perks of Being a Wallflower on one end, and Waterberry Tears on the other. The difference can possibly be succinctly described with the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems.  It's one thing to talk about a kid with a difficult relationship with friends, and another to talk about one whose very life depends on his not being what he is - gay. Homosexuality is a popular theme in these movies, possibly because it is only now that people (young people, anyway) have learned to accept it as normal. But to do talk about it in a highly marginalized community - the people Donald Trump would simply dismiss as rapists - is quite a courageous task to undertake, and it was done very well... almost.

From the point of view of the story itself, the movie deserves full credits. It has a very human side to it, a memorable tale indeed. The acting varies - while Raul Rodriguez and Juan Laoiza do a decent job, Mayra Gil is mostly a showpiece with virtually the same, stiff look throughout. The real star was Marisol Reyes as the mother who is torn between her love for her children and her own life and personal safety. Her looking for her son through the plantations, asking her god to help her, stands out as the most poignant scene in the film, a shot done perfectly.

And yet, just 3 stars for this? The problem is all in the ending; having established an excellent plot and some strong acting, there comes an impossibly nice character who seems to be immune to the entire social structure of the story... and then, that structure just breaks down for the flimsiest of reasons. It almost seems as though the whole movie was pointless, and the entire social issue could've been solved in the first few scenes in the plantation itself! The ending was thoroughly undeserving of such a good movie, and almost seemed as though the director got tired and wanted to finish the movie (which may be true, but then that justifies the lower rating). The director does tease the audience, but eventually goes back to the safest ending. Not done!

Still, this was a good movie that talked about something nobody would ever talk about, even today. Isn't that the point of cinema? Go and watch it with an open mind and ask yourself: what would you have done? (OTFS)

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