5 May 2003 | duncanstephens
interesting and well made but missing focus
I've just seen this film at the spanish film festival in Sydney. The producer will be appearing at the film's next screening on Saturday 04/05 - for any Sydneysiders reading this who are tempted to go and see it.
'Francisca' as a film is hard to classify - it is not a documentary, despite its linear structure, and use of archive footage; not a thriller, although the setting, especially in the first half of the film had the potential for a top-rate thriller; and not a romance at all, as the core relationship of the film is poorly developed and difficult to relate to. I guess historical drama is the closest description, yet there is not enough history nor drama to really qualify on that front.
As a political statement the film is quite convincing in its portrayal of the helplessness of those on the 'wrong' side in a state where police power is unchecked - in this case left-wing university based protesters in Mexico in the early seventies. However, after getting the audience involved in the plight of the protesters, the film abandons them for the story of the main character (Bruno/Helmut), and his love-interest Adela, whose character is sadly one-dimensional - the passionate and beautiful idealist who falls in love without any apparent reason. The powerless of Bruno/Helmut's character is effectively demonstrated, but then further plot developments seem to suggest that his character has a tendency to find himself in situations he can't control , which seems to undermine the link from the personal back to the political (ie beginning of the film), leaving us a little confused as to what the filmmaker's point is.
This is not to say the film is not worth seeing. It is well made, with an interesting historical and cultural context, an unusual story, and offers a chance to see some great Mexican countryside. Somehow it doesn't quite gel, but nevertheless I'm glad I saw it.