Mexican cinema was pretty quiet on the world stage for over a decade but recently there’s been some green shoots of recovery. Whilst not reaching the heights of Y Tu Mamá También and Amores perros the likes of Biutiful, Heli and Light After Darkness have all made an impact on the festival circuit. However, Alonso Ruizpalacios’ début feature film Güeros goes one step further and is arguably the best Mexican film of the last decade.
When troubled Tomás (Sebastián Aguirre) becomes too much for his mother to handle he’s packed off to live with his brother ‘Sombra’ (Tenoch Huerta) in Mexico City. Sombra lives in a stifling flat with his best friend Santos (Leonardo Ortizgris). There’s a long-running strike at their university but the pair would rather fester than be actively involved. However, Sombra’s in love with one of strike leaders, the charismatic Ana (Ilse Salas). The group embark on an odyssey to find Epigmenio Cruz (Alfonso Charpener), an aged singer who is the strongest connection the brothers have with their father.
Ruizpalacios pays homage to French New Wave cinema in Güeros. Shot in black and white, in many ways it feels like a film which could have been made around the time of the French Student Protests of 1968. There are moments of sheer abandon but a feeling of restlessness, hopelessness and malaise pervades throughout. The cast help build the atmosphere brilliantly but it’s Ilse Salas whose presence dominates every scene she’s in. Güeros is a beautiful work of cinema and hopefully announces a major new Mexican film-making presence.
Güeros is out in cinemas on Friday.