Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Have you seen Lupita? (orig. ¿Alguien ha visto a Lupita?) [2012]

Fr. Dennis (4+ Stars)

IMDb listing

I have to admit that I honestly never expected Have you seen Lupita? (orig. ¿Alguien ha visto a Lupita?) a Mexican, Spanish language-English subtitled film directed and cowritten by Gonzalo Justiniano along with Marina Stavenhagen and which played recently at the 28th Chicago Latino Film Festival take the direction that it did.  However, looking-back to pretty much the first line in the movie, the hint is already there.

In  that first scene, a bouncy / cute Mexican teenager (played by Dulce Maria [IMDb]) comes back into her heavy-on-the-pink, sweetly adorned room of her upper-middle class family's home, giggling, puts her new smart video phone on a table or something, turns it on, and starts talking into it.  Then as "solemnly" as any teenager bubbling with excitement over getting a new smart phone would do, she introduces herself to all the future viewers of her video diary, which she declares she's making "for all her future children," (and since we're watching her do all this, she's actually introducing herself to us) with the words: "My name is MARIA GUADALUPE DEL PILAR DE LA CONCEPCIÓN DEL SANTO NIÑITO JESUS... but to most people who know me, I'm just Lupita." ;-).  In that line, my friends, is the clue for understanding the entire movie ;-) ;-).

I would like to stop my review here, except perhaps to note (1) that a movie like this is inevitably risky and (2) I do think that director Gonzalo Justiniano produces a movie of such innocence that I do believe he pulls it off.

Gonzalo Justiniano was present at the film festival to take questions after the film's screening.  So I did ask him, noting my background (that I am a Catholic priest from an Order called the Servants of Mary) and my surprise and admiration for what he and the others involved in the film appeared to pull-off, how he and the others involved in the film (most notably probably the cowriter Marina Stavenhagen) even came-up with the idea to make it.  Noting also the obvious and obviously intended allusions made in the film, he answered by saying that he intended to make a movie for young people of today and one that defended them and their point of view.  Often enough young people are put down/dismissed as being silly or crazy when they really are not and that this film appeared to be a good vehicle to do so.

The director also said that he was showing the film at the Chicago Latino Film Festival as well as others in hopes that he could find an American distributor for the film.  OH BOY, DO I HOPE THAT HE FINDS ONE!  This is a highly original, gentle, light-hearted film that (as often is the case with such films) turns out to be surprisingly profound. 

So ¡Felicidades Gonzalo Justiniano, Marina Stavenhagen y Dulce Maria! and the rest of the cast / crew! Yes, your subject matter was tricky, but I really do believe that with your persistent innocence you pulled it off!  ;-)


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