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Movie review: 'Güeros' explores youth with subtle surrealism

Action. Movement. Motion.

“Güeros” brings a frenzied drama to adolescence in a film that follows Tomas (Sebastián Aguirre), a young boy, who has a series of adventures when he is sent to Mexico City to stay with his older brother Sombra (Tenoch Huerta).

Tomas’ stay in Mexico City begins after his accidentally dropping a water balloon on a baby, which is only the first of several events that set a tone of understated surrealism in the film. Tomas’ visit serves to shake his older brother, who is in a rut because of the shutdown of his school due to student strikes.

Unwilling to sit in his brother’s apartment, Tomas, Sombra, his roommate Santos and friend Ana (Ilse Salas), venture out into the expanse of the city.

“Güeros” is brilliantly composed, making use of black and white cinematography. The film is equally meandering and driven. The images wash past in complex patterns of stillness and motion. The effect is dreamlike; the boys are frantically running down the stairs of the apartment in one shot; another shot holds a beetle crawling across the wall; the wind quietly wafts a curtain in a random room.

The film builds an ethereal haze of images, which is compounded as it cuts away from the main characters, often flitting between multiple points of view via some very sophisticated editing, which provides a glimpse into the larger world of the characters, resulting in their personal struggles seeming more salient and impactful.

The frantic lackadaisicalness of the film is very much in the tradition of French New Wave. The characters run about, never quite in sync with their world, never quite able to get with the flow -- a concept beautifully illustrated when the characters decide to turn off their car in the middle of a busy freeway.

The film microcosmically explores how Tomas and his friends relate to fit in with the world around them and define themselves as a result. The film authentically deals with the characters as they search, often wondering where they are, and the characters will answer one another with Mexico City in a way that almost becomes a mantra; as if the characters are jokingly reminding each other of their place in the world.

Nathan Reynolds is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at or on Twitter at @yayap001.

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