12 February 2008 | johno-21
Burn the Bridges
I saw the USA premiere of this last month at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. I'm sure IMDb will eventually correct the listing of this film under the Genre category heading as Short when this film is in fact a 105 minute long feature. The debut feature film from director Francisco Franco who co-wrote the screenplay with Maria Renee Prudencio. Quemar las naves is distributed as Burn the Bridges to English language audiences. It won the Audience Award at the 5th annual Morelia International Film Festival in Mexico and it's cinematographer Erika Licea won at Morelia for Best Cinematography. Lizette Ponce is the film's production designer. Franco and film stars Irene Azuela and Ramon Valdes were on hand at my Palm Springs screening for an audience Q&A. Eugenia (Claudette Maillé) is a former pop singer who is bedridden and dying of cancer. Her 19 year old daughter Helena (Irene Azuela) dreams of traveling the world and learns foreign languages at home and wishes she could be a glamorous pop star like her mother was. Helena cares for her mother with the help their house maid Chaya (Aida Lopez) who also keeps the aging house in working order. Sebastian (Angel Onésimo Nevares) is Helena's teenage brother and Eugenia's son who attends a Catholic high school run by a Monsignor who plays classical music over the loudspeakers thinking it will calm down the boisterous kids. Sebastian's dreams are simple and he merely wants to move to the beach. Helena is smart and pretty but she has no friends, male or female and is totally devoted to her mother's care and is also on the verge of initiating an incestuous relationship with Sebastian. Sebastian however, is falling in love with a boy at school named Jaun (Bernardo Benítez) who is the school roughneck and the son of a single father who owns a little bar. Jaun is the nemesis of the school preppy named Ismael (Ramon Valdes) who comes from such a wealthy home that he has his own chauffeur and bodyguards. Ismael's ping pong obsessed girlfriend Aurora (Jessica Segura) rents a room at Helena and Sebastian's house where Ismael discovers he is also attracted to Sebastian. This film is a drama with some doses of smart comedy sprinkled throughout but it's not a dark comedy. It is a strange story where you are never quite sure where it's going to go and keeps your interest piqued. It's a very good film for a first time feature film director and he gets the best out of a young cast. I would give this an 8.5 out of 10 and recommend it.