April’s Daughter(Michel Franco, 2017): Mexico

Reviewed by Zinan He.   Viewed at AFI Fest 2017.

Michel Franco has created unforgettable lead performances. The central figure in April’s Daughter (Ide), is April played by Emma Suarez, who initially show unbelievable trust and support for her daughters irrespective of the situation they are in but gradually turns out to be manipulative and creepy. The much complex family drama in the movie can inevitably raise temper of many and also make audience stick to the story which is the intension of the director. I recommend the viewer to go with the flow of story while watching the movie which keeps on developing the new plot on how April behavior changes. Emma showed her acting in which she has put her best to make April as bad and cunning as anybody could.
April give a visit to her daughters in Puerto Vallarta, she doesn’t get mad at her daughters even when the little one is pregnant at 17 with her boyfriend, by her side and older ones depressed and overweight. She seems to be supportive and affectionate when they meet at the beginning, but the truth is known to her daughter. The film slowly discloses the true nature of as she interferes with the lives of her daughter. She tries her best to manipulate Valeria (Ana Valeria Becerril) about how it would change her life forever for worse. April’s is shown a stubborn character who can go to any extent to achieve what she wants, which gives a toxic flavor in family relation.
Franco builds lots of tension between the characters handsomely presented series of unexpected event which leaves one curious about the direction of the story. Honestly, it’s very unpredictable how characters act in such a way like they do which also makes the movie more appealing and dramatic. Franco has intentionally developed the scene where April tries to act like she is the third sister which can be assumed from her appearance which also makes the film more suspicious about her role.
Valeria very innocently continues to believe that she be able to marry her boyfriend Mateo (Enrique Arrizon) and raise the baby by herself. However, April thinks the other way round. April stunned everyone when she betrays Valeria and files for the custody of the infant. When that was not enough she talk to Mateo and leaves with him to Mexico City. Aprils makes a very predictable move in Mexico when she tries to influence own daughter’s boyfriend to have the baby with her. Franco manages to build emotional drama, creating the condition in which the audience is interested and enjoy.
The movie is developed in 90s style however the movement of camera and editing have beautifully constructed. April’ daughter can be recognized as the Franco most elegant piece of art where the events changes in a blink of eyes. Even though the characters are questionably realistic, the movie as a whole has able to leave marks on the viewer.
Franco also maintains the credibility as he increases the emotional stakes, creating situations that one just wish did not happen. It makes the audiences want to jump on the screen and change the course of events. One cannot help but be captivated by the movie even though there are some major plot holes. The characters are perfectly placed in the movie, and every one of them gives a solid performance.
The movie begins with a contemporary drama about unwanted pregnancy but in the end, results in a fascinating dive into the complex issues of parenting and self-realization. The shots are directed well depriving us of fairy tale endings and giving a realistic impression of the world within. April’s Daughter is a great movie that will make audience angry and impatient at times. The characters each provide deep meanings through their actions and dialogues. Though some of the things might be puzzling and ignorant, the entire movie is Franco’s best work until today. Many stranger things have happened before in real life and cinemas, but April’s daughter leaves a strong impression on the audiences. Although far from being perfect, the movie is unexpectedly witty and the fascinating storytelling is always welcome.

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