24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
worth watching but not a great film by any stretch of the definition,
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This review is from: 7 Soles (DVD)
I bought this DVD based on the good reviews here and also for the lead actor, Gustavo Sanchez Parra, who has been a mainstay of the New Mexican Cinema movement for the last decade. While 7 Soles was interesting and definitely had some bright spots, overall it's a far cry short of the many great Mexican films of the 2000s. In fact, it feels more like a well-produced television movie.
First the positives: Sanchez Parra gives a good performance, in this his first leading actor credit that I have seen. Some of the camerawork is also excellent: for example there is a still scene of a truck driving past a border fence, which is a marvelous exercise in artistic simplicity (it feels just like Gabriel Figueroa in color). There are several shots like that. Also, the off-angle aerial shots of Chicago do a great job of capturing the awe of life in a bustling American metropolis, especially when contrasted with the slow-moving pace of life in the Mexican village. The effect is to dizzy you at the wonder, much as a rural immigrant might see it upon their own arrival. Finally, the details of the Mexican village are spot-on accurate, down to the tablecloth in the kitchen and the mesquite tree in the yard. The process of migration with the coyotes is in many cases also very accurately portrayed.
While the negatives never really ruined my enjoyment of the film, they almost immediately disqualify 7 Soles from consideration as a serious piece of filmmaking. First of all are the performances: many of the actors here don't shine past daytime soap opera quality. The father in Chicago (what a fake country accent), the father-in-law in Mexico (pretend to grieve), and even Evangelina Sosa in her village (she looks noticeably out of place there), all really sunk my opinion of the film in the first 10 minutes. And the film production has scarce any of the color distortion, movement, or special handling which so exemplified the Novo Mexican Cinema movement. It looks like it was filmed with videotape, evoking a sitcom-like quality more characteristic of the lowbrow Mexican cinema movement. And the film's realism, however accurate in many regards, is sunk by a heavy-handed moral message. In that sense it is all too reminiscent of the epoca dorada Mexican film Espaldas Mojadas (1953), which I think may have actually been funded by the US Border Patrol as a blatant act of propaganda.
Those points aside, I still enjoyed 7 Soles and don't regret buying it. I will pass it around for my Mexican friends to watch and they will probably think higher of it than I did. But for me, sadder than its story is the fact that 7 Soles stands as a testament to the end of Mexico's decade as the premier foreign language film-producing nation. In fact, there were very few Mexican films worth mentioning after 2006. While a drop-off in line with the 1960s-80s is unlikely, Mexican filmmaking may now be on a course for years of mediocrity and anonymity, with only occasional bursts of excellence or interest.
The DVD is in a fairly-letterboxed format with English-only subtitles, which accurately portray the Spanish dialogue.
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Initial post: Feb 24, 2011, 5:22:52 PM PST
Thank you. I haven't seen the movie, but do plan to buy it based on your review. Your review seems very fair and accurate. You know your stuff! More people should do reviews like this.
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