Mosquita y Mari

17 08 2012

Alright, so here are my famous reviews for this year’s Queer Film Festival.  I won’t be going to see the big-name movies (ie. Tomboy, North Sea Texas, Invisible Men), as I’ve seen those already (all three of those are fantastic films, btw).  Nevertheless, I have a pretty full schedule lined up ahead of me.  Let’s get this thing goin’!

Mosquita y Mari

Synopsis: two Latina girls in the US deal with a friendship that may be more.

Super awesome things: I needed to think about this film.  I left quite quickly after because I had to run off to the next film of the night, and didn’t have much time to really absorb this very good debut feature film from Aurora Guerrero until, well, about now.  I left the theatre having really enjoyed what I watched, but why?  Could it be the obvious fact of a story between two Hispanic teenagers that wasn’t at all cliched or follow the typical formula of other gay teen romance films?  Could it be the pauses and silences between characters, ones that leave audiences wondering what the people on-screen could be thinking?  And then I realized it: it’s all of these things.  Moreover, all of these things are simple things.

What I like best about Mosquita y Mari is the simplicity.  Guerrero knows the formula (or at least, should be familiar of it) of other gay films, and having the film between the two, wonderfully-acted leads be more about a confusing but rewarding friendship than a super dramatic romance thing was a probably the best choice she made.  From the simple plot point of Mosquita (her real name is Yolanda, but Mari calls her Mosquita, which translates to “little fly”) helping Mari with math, to simply framed shots of the two girls lying in side by side in the abandoned car lot while the sunlight pours in from the open roof — there’s a very great sense of sincerity and genuineness for reality in this film.  It doesn’t strive to have everyone win.  This is a simple, realistic story of two girls.

Not so great things: the film is noticeably low-budget, but frankly, it’s so charming and well-made for an independent film that it doesn’t really matter.  I also didn’t quite understand why Yolanda, who says she is a sophomore, is given college pamphlets by her math teacher.  Really?  I mean, yeah, she’s super smart, but it’s just a tad early, isn’t it?  The dynamics between both sets of parents and their daughters is not excavated much, either.  We see Yolanda’s parents getting in a huff about a “boy” they think is the cause of their daughter’s declining grades, but when her mother makes the discovery of looking out the oft-looked-out-of-window by Yolanda to Mari’s place across the street, there’s a look of realization on her face.  It’s not a boy after all.  Unfortunately, there’s never a confrontation between parent and child, and in a film about an ethnic community said to have voted in large numbers in favour of Proposition 8, the infamous bill that kicked same-sex marriage back in dreamland in California a few years ago, there was a clear opportunity to explore the how and why the Latino community feels about queer issues.  But this film is about Mosquita and Mari, yes, and most, if not all of the conflict in this little film, comes from them, not from external forces such as homophobia.

Good for watching: as an exercise in what you can do with an independent production.

Overall: an excellent, simple first feature from Guerrero.

Grade: A-