By Mack Chico
*Note: Watch Jack Rico’s recent interview in Spanish with Gael García Bernal.
According to Variety, Mexican actor Gael García Bernal and actress Ashley Hinshaw (“Chronicle”) have begun filming the movie “Deserted Cities” in Mexico City. The movie is a comic adaptation of influential Mexican author Jose Agustin‘s novel, and has director Roberto Sneider, the director of “Tear This Heart Out” Mexico’s pick for 2008 Oscar contention, at the helm.
The $3 million film will also have the production design of Eugenio Caballero, the craftsman behind Guillermo del Toro‘s “Pan’s Labyrinth”. According to Bernal, it will mix a “number of political angles between the couple, the other the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico, and another is between the archetypical Mexican macho and the contemporary feminist woman.”
Bernal is very respected in the indie circuit and in Mexican cinema. Most of his indie films are seen as must-see for movie connoisseurs and usually are highly admired with socio-political messages.
His latest movie “No,” has just been picked up by Sony Picture Classics, with a soon release.
The story for “Deserted Cities,” o “Ciudades Desiertas” in Spanish, goes like this: Susana, a female Mexican writer flees her home to attend an international workshop in the USA, leaving her husband Eligio (Bernal) behind and completely unaware of her whereabouts. A hot-tempered intellectual with a somewhat cynical and misanthropic sense of humor, he works his way to catch up with his wife, arguing to have only done so to find out why exactly Susana left.
They almost immediately suffer a cultural shock upon their arrival, although they are already well acquainted with the typical American lifestyle. The American residents, with a small town mentality, are depicted as largely more ignorant of the visitors’ culture and society; whereas the latter, especially Latin Americans, show a contemptuous reluctancy to try and fit in, perhaps Susana being the most remarkable exception. Throughout their journey, both try to pinpoint their relationship’s setbacks, as well as their own flaws.
The two attempt to show a sense of individuality and emotional disattachment from their spouse, each according to their respective point of view. While Eligio tries to make sense out of things, halfway acknowledging the extent of his feelings for his wife, still paradoxically giving in to outbursts of rage on occasions; Susana strains to convey an ideal of utter independence, as she feels the routine of her marriage holds her back. Motivated at first to prove her own self-worth, which she does find, she eventually experiences the certainty of her love for Eligio, in spite of all her efforts to stay away from him.