I really don't understand why so many people voted only one star for this movie, although I imagine that it has to do with preconceptions on their part.
Also, I have to say that when I saw the DVD cover at the video store, I thought that there was a decent chance that the movie would suck, but I gave it a chance anyway. Poor marketing there, as the movie might get more rentals in the video stores if the DVD cover were better at portraying the tone of the film.
And I guess that's my main issue, because this really is a quite good film, and deserves to be seen by far more people than will actually see it. I'll tell my friends, and word of mouth will get a few more views for the film, but it's not enough. This film deserves to be mainstream. The script is strong, and the characters are human and three dimensional, and the side plot with the two extended families from different classes was hilarious.
This movie is listed as "Boricua" on IMDb, but it is currently in video stores using the title, "Chicago Boricua." I see many, many films, and most of them don't stick with me for very long, but this one has....so take that as a recommendation, I guess. Far more people should see this film than probably will actually end up seeing it.
The focus of this film is identity, specifically the various different flavors of Puerto Rican-American identity. Lola is a middle class college student, who drives into Humboldt Park to buy dope, and ends up dating the dope dealer, a working class young man named Willy. The relationship has many of the problems of relationships between people of different classes, as the two have difficulties dealing with the class-based differences between them. Tata, meanwhile wants to enter a beauty pageant open only to Puerto Rican ladies. The only problem is that Tata has a secret. She is white. She has done her best to take on the Boricua identity and "become" Boricua, but the film never really explains why she did this. This is one of the few flaws of the film. German, meanwhile, is a Puerto Rican man who has taken a job in an all-white real estate office, and he has to make some changes to his personality and identity in order to fit in in this new world and succeed in his new profession. There is a big price to pay here. I'll say no more, because I don't want to spoil too much of the plot.
With the character of German, the film introduces the problem of gentrification in Humboldt Park, which is a problem that is currently occurring there in real life. The biggest problem with the film is with the white characters that work for the real estate office. They are portrayed as one-dimensionally evil and racist. This is a flaw in many minority-centered films that come out in this day and age. Granted, not every film can be like Crash, but minority filmmakers do their films a disservice by painting white characters as all being evil, humorless, and having no soul.
But let's not let that take away from my main point. This is an excellent film. It's certainly better than the majority of big-budget films that get mainstream distribution. Go rent it now!
Very little Chilean film is readily available in the US on DVD, which is a shame, and I truly hope that most Chilean films are better than this one. I don't want to say that it was bad in every aspect. Certainly, the photography was strong, as was the setting. Close attention was paid to wardrobe, and I would say that the results in this area were fantastic.
It's a terrible shame, then, that the writing and acting were so poor, especially the writing. The story of the miners in Lota is an important story that deserves dignity. I was hoping that this movie would be along the lines of Matewan, which is an excellent American film that has almost the exact same storyline as Sub Terra, reflecting similarities in aspects of our nations' histories. Sadly, the writing and acting in Sub Terra were much more similar to that of a soap opera, or perhaps an ABC Afterschool Special or a movie produced by Hallmark. Dialogue was predictable and sophomoric, characters were one dimensional, and the level of over sentimentality from the actors was just terribly uncomfortable to watch.
I regret seeing this film, not because I disagree with the message that the film is conveying, but because the film is truly, truly bad. One might give the excuse that the film has a low budget, but many good films have low budgets.
I don't know where to begin. The editing is amateurish. Some of the dialogue is cringe-worthy, and the tone, contrary to another user's comment, is quite overbearing, especially Stephen Baldwin's character, who comes across as smug and unlikeable in spite of the fact that he is supposed to be one of the most sympathetic characters in the film. Elena Lyons and Amy Moon are surely two of the worst, most wooden actresses I've ever seen. I thought that David White put in a good performance, but otherwise I really have very little of a positive nature to say about this film. Avoid it!