Film Note: Peyote

Directed by Omar Flores Sarabia
Mexico, 2013

I enjoyed even more the second time around this dreamy, full-of-desire, Mexican adolescent-quest GTM written and directed by Omar Flores Sarabia, although its flaws were more apparent as well. This is barely a feature film, and Sarabia struggles with rhythms within scenes and with overall pacing. Also some of his narrative set-ups struck me as artificial, although what happens after the boys hit their marks is not.

But what Sarabia does get right is remarkable, particularly in portraying the differences in speech patterns and inflections between two class-based dialects and how those differences play themselves out in the rapport between the two characters, who, despite their obvious attraction, can’t help but distrust and second-guess one another. They eventually sound more and more alike as they get acquainted, exchanging intimacies, flaws and fears. One of the film’s most beautiful scenes is shot into a mirror, after a quick, diagonal pan, as Pablo rubs Marco’s hairy chest. Marco’s expression is of astonishment, and a little bit of fear, as someone he wants gives him that; but, he doesn’t think he deserves it.

Rich-kid Pablo’s cheap video camera functions as a mediating device for all these differences, and Marco, the shiftless and less intellectual older kid, understandably keeps stealing it to get his points across, as the two kinda sorta document their escape together from their normal lives — Marco from his itinerant one, living out of his car; Pablo from his upper-class one, neglected by his parents. Marco’s mischievous and surreptitious inserts, sometimes only a few seconds long, constitute love letters of a sort, not only to Pablo but to the kind of man Marco would like to be.

The landscape photography, centered in and around San Luis Potosí in Mexico, ain’t too shabby either, despite its trendy, glowing, Instagram-y look, and along with the sound design and original music, adds a rich vibe and quirky counterpoint to the teenage romantic drama.

I fell in love with this film, and suspect, given the chance, that Sarabia will make a movie as beautiful and stylistically bold as Alexis Dos Santos’ extraordinary Glue from Argentina.

“Art is like getting a good blow job,” says Marco.

Or giving one, Pablo might say.

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