Thursday, 26 November 2015

REVIEW - GUEROS (ALONSO RUIZPALACIOS)


La Nouvelle Vague comes to Mexico, only it's not so nouvelle any more. Gueros is a hipster's dream, and a perfect hipster's dream. It's so hyped up on its metatextual referentialism, so indebted to a form of filmmaking whose influence was understandably strong, that it's not just pretentious - it's actually quite good. The familiarity of Alonso Ruizpalacios' film, that deflating feeling that you're watching just another quirked-up, black-and-white tale of teen ennui, subsides once Ruizpalacios even begins to employ these borrowed techniques. The scenario is old hat, but the screenplay develops its revolutionary fervour with insight and its characters with perceptiveness. The static shots and close-ups are mostly mere aesthetic decoration (to say nothing of the monochrome), but Ruizpalacios permits a welcome objectivity to be superimposed upon his most subjective images, thus letting his audience form a connection with these characters, one that all this fluffy formality would normally repel. And if his disaffected youth storyline is brimming over with the usual ideological optimism and romantic defeatism, he at least convinces that these notions are legitimate, that they have roots in reality and applications in it too. Gueros is shot through with many missteps - a byproduct of the process of artistic appropriation when applied this liberally - Ruizpalacios isn't entirely set on whose story he's actually telling here, and he never finds a compelling argument for the grandiosity that his narrative seeks to transmit. But these are, frankly, expected - La Nouvelle Vague is dead, after all. What's unexpected is how much life Gueros shoots back into it.