2010 Running time: 82 Certificate: 15 Rating: 4

Synopsis

Offbeat feature film debut from Mexican actor turned director Diego (Y Tu Mama Tambien) Luna, telling the sweet tale of Abel, an emotionally troubled nine-year-old. He's released from hospital to spend time with his family but gets it into his head that he's his own father. Mum, his older sister and young brother play along, but things get tricky when pop shows up. A surprising, funny and rewarding treat.

Director

  • Diego Luna

Cast

  • Karina Gidi

  • Christopher Ruiz-Esparza

  • Geraldine Alejandra

  • Jose Maria Yazpik

Review

With sensitivity and humour, Diego Luna demonstrates a genuine flair for tender, wryly observed family drama with Abel, giving him a second career behind the camera if his matinee idol looks ever fade.

Keeping the action largely confined to a spacious, though crumbling house and the surrounding wasteland, Luna and co-writer Augusto Mendoza avoid cheap laughs and camp melodrama, instead bringing a magical realism to Abel's plight.

They also avoid revealing why Abel has not spoken for two years or why he becomes his missing dad when allowed home for a week of see-what-happens therapy.

As the titular pre-teen, Ruiz-Esparza's performance mixes dramatic weight with deft comic timing, interrogating his older sister's bemused boyfriend about his intentions or, in a superbly handled scene, believing he has fulfilled his husbandly duties with his mum.

Luna makes room for a subplot involving Abel's dad's real reason behind his leaving to seek work in the US, and allows himself a traditional kids-in-peril swimming pool ending that manages to stay on the right side of soap.

But, the movie is better in the smaller domestic scenes, anchored by a standout performance by Gidi as Abel's loving mum.

With a familiar face that belies the fact you've probably not seen her in anything, Gidi is the film's emotional anchor and on the basis of this both she and Ruiz-Esparza deserve break through success.

Mexican cinema adds another gem to its treasure chest.

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