La Otra Familia Movie Review
At the 22nd
Annual Cinequest running February 28 to March 11, Family is redefined in the film La Otra Familia
(The Other Family) by director and writer Gustavo Loza.
Set in Mexico (in Spanish with English subtitles) the film centers around the fate of a young boy abandoned by his drug-addicted single mother and the fate of a wealthy gay couple who try to care for him. The film also contrasts the social and widening economic disparities in Mexico, a country with very distinct social classes where people know their place or suffer the consequences as they do in this wrenching film.
The drama begins when Nina (Nailea Norvind) once again abandons her son Hendrix (as in Jimi played by Bruno Loza) in order to spend days getting high at her boyfriend/dealer’s apartment. Coming to the boy’s ill-fated rescue is Nina’s friend Ivana (Ana Serradilla) who hands off the boy to Jean Paul (Jorge Salinas) and Chema (Luis Guzman) a recently wed gay couple. The story thus is set in Mexico City as this is one of only two places where same-sex marriages are allowed in the entire country.
The gay couple, at first, is apprehensive of taking in this child especially Chema, played convincingly by Guzman, but it is Chema who eventually bonds with the child and becomes his most vocal defender. The newlywed couple soon confronts another hurdle, one of many for openly gay individuals in a traditionally conservative Catholic country, when they try to enroll Hendrix in a private Catholic school. Here the director offers us another glimpse of Mexico’s social disparities where the very rich can dictate who has access to what and exceptions can be made for the right price. Even representatives of the church are not above playing this game when it is to their benefit.
The story’s heart is sealed during the scenes that take place inside Jean Paul’s and Chema’s fittingly upscale and exclusive home. Here the men are presented as a loving couple, a nurturing family- exactly what the boy lacks from his biological mother who once she discovers he has been “kidnapped” from her begins a crazed effort to get him back even if she cannot care for him as he deserves.
The film picks up steam when Nina’s boyfriend has his own plans for Hendrix involving another couple who have recently lost their own newborn son. A side story involving Ivana and her lesbian lover explores another definition of family when Ivana’s brother is approached to be a sperm donor for a child Ivana and Gloria (played by Ana Soler) wish to conceive.
Those viewers who are seeking to peel back the curtain of life inside modern Mexico City, who want a glimpse of the criminal element that lurks behind every door or rooftop, who have long suspected injustices in the way things are done, and how life works in Mexico won’t be disappointed in this challenging, at times troubling but in the end life-affirming film.
La Otra Familia is one of many productions shown in Latino Film Showcase at Cinequest February through March 2012. Trailer:
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