Consider Esperanza Diaz, a young widow who must deal with the death of her teen aged daughter Blanca. She is inconsolable, to say the least. Esperanza discovers one day the image of Saint Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes, in the door of her grimy oven, which she has neglected because she has no Easy-off cleaner. The saint speaks to her and tells her Blanca is alive. Esperanza runs to the church to tell it to Father Salvador, who goes along trying to appease the distraught woman.
Esperanza, who shares a house with another woman, Soledad, knows Blanca's death doesn't make sense. The girl went into the hospital for a minor procedure and ends up dead, under mysterious circumstances. Her body is never released to Esperanza because supposedly it can spread a certain type of virus. In trying to see Blanca's doctor, Esperanza is told he no longer practices in the hospital.
When St. Jude appears again, he tells her about a pink house where Blanca is kept against her wishes. The house happens to be in Tijuana, a far away place from her small town in Veracruz. Esperanza decides to follow her hunch and ends up in the northern border city. In Tijuana she gets a run around, and she ends up in a series of situations that involve prostitution, something that she does against he will because she is determined to find her daughter.
Her quest takes her to Los Angeles, a city that proves to be not too friendly to Esperanza, but in which she ends up finding love when she meets a wrestling star that falls in love with her. Esperanza, who decides to go back to Veracruz finally gets a vision of Blanca in a mirror on a wall of her house. When the wrestler shows up in her town, she decides to take the chance, not before ripping the wall where she can see Blanca's image.
Alejandro Springall, the director of this wonderfully entertaining film, shows a natural talent for bringing together all the elements and make it work. The film is based on a novel by Maria Amparo Escandon, who also appears briefly in the film. "Santitos" made quite an impression when it was presented at the Sundance Film Festival. The film mixes superstition with an adventure. The second half of the film is a road movie as Esperanza sets out to bring Blanca home.
Dolores Heredia does a splendid job as Esperanza. She gives an inspired performance and holds the picture together. This sunny actress should be seen more often because she proves to be a natural in front of the camera. Others in the film include Damian Bichir, in a small role. Alberto Estrella, Roberto Cobo and Ana Berta Espin contribute to enhance the film.
"Santitos" merits a view and it's a shame it didn't get a wider distribution in this country.