Abel (Diego Luna, 2010): Mexico

Reviewed by Adina Latoya Livingston, Viewed at the Grauman’s Chinese Theater, AFI Film Fest, Hollywood, CA

First featured at Munchen Film Festival, Abel is amusing and astonishing. Mexican actor and director Diego Luna did excellent work on the plot. He is known for his acting in the 2008 hit “Milk” and 2004 film “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights”. The film tells the story of the eponymous protagonist, a 9 year old boy suffering from deep emotional stress, which drives him into assuming the patriarchal role in the collapsing family his mother tries to manage after the disappearance of the real father of the family. Christopher Ruiz-Esparza has natural charm. He did an astonishing job at enhancing the depiction of Abel’s relationship with his brother Paul, for whom Abel becomes a combination of a father figure and a friend to play with.

Abel, a nine‐year‐old boy with confounding behavior and refusal to speak ends up in a mental health facility near his home. His single mother persuaded that a gathering with his brother and sister might aid his condition. It influences Abel’s doctor to release him for a single week. With his father absent, Abel becomes the unorthodox paternal figure who brings the family together. To prevent conflict, each family member take on their new role.  Later in the film we are introduced to the father of the family who abandon his family to be with another family.  Abel had no recollection of him and treats him like a complete stranger while still taking on the role as dad. Of course the father opposes his behavior and insists he go back to the hospital. Then, Diego creates an intense ending and it causes the audience to become completely impatient while the film slowly concludes.

The film depicts a struggle of a single parent household throughout the film.  This film was like no other, it had an impeccable and strange story line that definitely grasps attention of the audience.  In a way, it is heartbreaking to see a little kid experience such a disease. Every performer navigated smoothly through the entire gamut of emotions, leaving the audience glued to the abnormal life of this lower middle-class Mexican family. There is a level of care given to every moment of the film, a seemingly earnest attempt to create even the most ridiculous situation feel rooted into reality.

Although this film is in Spanish, it is at the top of my as a “must see”. Diego had an impeccable cast that devoted themselves to their parts.  I am unsure that the scenario portrayed in the movie consist of a real life situation however, it could be related to life in other ways.  The film is artistically unique and I give it two thumbs up. Excellent job Diego Luna!

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