Film Reviews

Aqui y Alla Is Simple and Elegant

You'll witness no border-crossing histrionics in writer-director Antonio Méndez Esparza's first feature, which translates as "Here and There"; the film is as simple, straightforward, and elegant as its title. Featuring a cast of nonprofessionals — many playing versions of themselves and all naturals in front of the camera — Aquí y Allá patiently tracks Pedro (Pedro de los Santos), reuniting with his wife and two daughters in a small town in Guerrero, Mexico, after his second long stretch working in New York. The effects of his absence emerge with subtle force: Lying in bed with Pedro, his spouse, expecting their third child, confesses her fears that he was unfaithful ("I felt that you had someone there"); his older daughter is sullen and recalcitrant. Although these fissures never quite disappear, much of the film is devoted to the family's reestablishing its closeness in organic moments usually involving Pedro (an aspiring musician) singing a corrido as his clan ribs him. Fully immersing us in the present — in the here and now — Méndez Esparza unobtrusively reminds us of the past and the future tied up with there. When a high-school dropout, now living with his aunt because his parents went north, seeks Pedro's advice about crossing over, the ravages of an endless, disruptive cycle are made clear — not through grandstanding but detailed, intimate episodes.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Melissa Anderson