Casi Divas Hustles to Please

Casi Divas, a none-too-clever but hustling-to-please Mexican comedy, concerns a diverse citizenship drawn together across dividing lines—of race, class, sexuality, gender (re)assignment—by the embrace of pop monoculture. With predictable reservations, this seems a good thing to director Issa López, a pioneer in pumping American studio money into a bottomed-out Mexican film industry (though this time, she's on Columbia's dime, with Hans Zimmer imported to pluck out a score). A popular telenovela soap opera producer announces a nationwide search for a new leading lady to debut in an upcoming film adaptation. The Mexico City lights draw Catalina (Diana Garcia) from the factories of Ciudad Juárez, where disappearing co-workers join the city's staggering figures of unsolved homicides. Francisca (Maya Zapata), a Zapotec Indian, represents rural Oaxaca, while local Yesenia (Daniela Schmidt) is, secretly, the most disenfranchised of all. An appealing cast smiles away through turbulent tone-shifts, as López piles on social problems until the film resembles a landmark. Like a populist politician furiously pumping hands on the campaign trail, pandering to a gallery of representative stereotypes, you'll admire the energy even while knowing better than to trust the everything-to-everyone gestures.

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