24 January 2006 | woodsie-4
Complete pap, but above average pap
Caught this movie on the local CineMexicana channel, which reruns a wide range of homegrown movies from the 50's onwards. Most of these are pretty basic and unadventurous potboilers that don't hold one's interest more than a couple of minutes, but this movie was different. It's no masterclass, don't get me wrong, but it had enough to warrant a second look.
What makes this movie worthwhile, just, is that is has a thin vein of the darkside running through it. The story is pure pulp - honest but occasionally wayward taxi driver tries to make a go of his life skirting around the edges of the law, but a combination of official corruption and bad luck force him in with a very bad crowd from which he struggles to break free. Along the way it showcases the usual Mexican 'barrios pobres' movie clichés - corrupt cops, drunken housewives, tarts with hearts, 'noble' rogues; hope , humour and despair mixed in together. But what sets this movie apart is that when the darker elements of the plot intervene, they aren't watered down as usual, but come at you pretty much full in the face. It's a fine line between gritty realism and exploitative schlock, and this film does veer more towards the latter, but it does still serve to plant a shadowy heart at the core of this film that is unusual in this genre. And the ending, although telegraphed in the opening scenes, is still powerful enough to surprise anyone raised on Hollywood endings.
A curious, ambivalent hybrid of a film that truly draws in the viewer as voyeur, interesting to fans of low-grade Mexican cinema and pulp-gore aficionados alike.