Tribeca Review: Gueros
Nowadays it is very easy to identify a coming-of-age story when you see one. Usually it makes its’ presence known by compounding the audience with a number of clichés that range anywhere from montages of flashbacks or an elder character attempting to guide a younger, seemingly lost character onto the path of self discovery and eventual self acceptance. Through Güeros, director and writer Alonso Ruizpalacios strips away over used and easily identifiable markers of what a coming-of-age story has come to look like and presents what he describes as “a black and white, coming of age, road movie in Mexico City”.
Focusing on three young men living in the late 90s in Mexico City, Güeros tells the story of Sombra (Tenoch Huerta), Santos(Leonardo Ortizgris), and Tomás (Sebastian Aguirre). The university that roommates Sombra and Santos attend is in the middle of a strike and has left these two in a strange fog of enthusiastic defiance and unrestricted freedom. As we meet these two, the spectacle of being on strike has lost its appeal as they now claim to be “on strike from strike”, leaving Sombra and Santos with nothing in particular to do to pass the time. Their routine of monotony and sporadically accomplishing something comes to a halt when Sombra’s teenage brother Tomás is sent to live with him because of their mother’s inability to control the rambunctious teen following an incident involving a mother, child, and water balloon. With Tomás wanting nothing more than to meet his favorite folk rock legend after hearing of his hospitalization and failing health, the trio sets on a journey to meet the man that’s music supposedly brought Bob Dylan to tears.
With the disarray of the student’s strike from the university serving as a backdrop, the theme of being young is inescapable. According to Ruizpalacios, “It is definitely a film about youth…it’s not a story that will make you think about what you’re going to do when you’re old.” As you watch the film, you won’t care about what will happen to these boys when they get older and I think that is what is most appealing about Gueros. It gives a very honest portrayal of what it is like to be young. To be naïve enough to believe in a lost cause and fight for what you believe in. To be crazy enough to live in an apartment without paying and set out on a trip to try and meet your idol just because you want to. And why not? That’s what you do when you’re young, not when you’re old.