Tempestad (2016)***

January 3rd, 2018
Author: Meredith Taylor

Wri-Dir: Tatiana Huezo | DoP: Ernesto Pardo | Doc| Mexico | 105′

Tatiana Huezo’s structurally-flawed second feature explores the timely phenomenon of human trafficking and migration through the interweaving stories of two women in Mexico.

While one shares an emotionally subdued story of her conflicted life as circus clown and mother. The other tells of her relief to escape the trauma of a prison sentence for human trafficking that then led to her being locked her away so the government could be seen to controlling the country’s migration issue and keeping it out of the headlines. But although each woman’s story is powerfully emotive in its own right, the individual impact is strangely lost in Heuzo’s decision to disconnect the spoken narrative from the valuable images accompanying them, so limiting the ultimate clout of the revealing experiences central to this female road movie.

TEMPESTAD is a lyrical and often dreamlike socio-political study that speaks from the heart but feels strangely alienating to watch despite its human interest credentials. The visually arresting prize-winning footage of a rain-soaked bus journey through lush landscapes of the massive country bears little relation to Miriam’s voiceover which deals her harrowing time in the confines of a baking-hot male-dominated prison. We hear how she subsequently became one of Mexico’s “pagadores” in a corrupt system where her family was forced to pay for her upkeep in a non-government institution, in order to keep her story from surfacing. Clearly Miriam was unable or unwilling to appear on camera so her words play out on an audio-track over the footage featuring unknown people making their way on a similar journey across Mexico from Matamoros (on the Texan border) to Tulum, over a thousand miles away.

To make things even more confusing, Miriam’s story actually begins in the aftermath to her release from jail and then works backwards to explain how she got there. Then, half an hour into the film, we meet the middle-aged circus clown Adela going about her days combining work and looking after her children. There is no connection between the two women at this stage, but Huezo continues to cut between the two stories without revealing Adela’s involvement in the film, so further weakening the heft of her premise. This all becomes clear in the final denouement. Despite these serious structural errors, Ernesto Pardo’s stunning camerawork is to be applauded in this worthwhile portrait of human suffering that raises the profile of Mexico’s murky past. MT




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