Coming down from the Saturday sugar rush of his 2006 comedy Duck Season, Mexican auteur Fernando Eimbcke’s lovely, Yucatán-set dramedy drifts by on a similar deadpan wave of static vignettes and lingering pauses that must be 10 months pregnant. Eimbcke’s droll rhythms are reminiscent of early Jim Jarmusch and Aki Kaurismäki—here stylistically appropriate for a film about social and emotional inertia. After downcast teen Juan (Diego Cataño) crashes the family Nissan into a telephone pole—the accident heard but not seen until after impact—he somberly ambles across the expansive, solitary desert in search of a needed auto part. He seeks help from a mistrustful old mechanic who shares behavior with his oddly anthropomorphic dog, a too-young mother with punk-rock ambitions, and a martial arts obsessive more interested in Shaolin badasses than in fixing cars. Through Juan’s encounters with such eccentrics, and eventually his own family, the reasons for his melancholy emerge—waves of heartbreak in what appear to be calm waters.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 8, 2009