Martin, the deeply depressed Frenchman, holds dual American citizenship, one
would expect him to be a shrewder traveler.
Instead, he blunders through Tijuana asking for trouble. He finds plenty in Mathieu Demy’s Americano (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
has issues with his estranged mother that now may never be resolved. She has recently died after years in Los
Angeles without contact. Reluctantly,
Martin flies out to dispose of the flat holds only unpleasant childhood
memories for him. However, family friend
Linda paints a far rosier portrait of his childhood years. Intrigued by references to his mother’s life-long
confidante Lola, Martin heads south of the border in Linda’s Mustang
convertible to track her down.
turns out Lola is a stripper about his age, working as the featured act at the
extra divey Americano club—a fine place for the French tourist to have his
midlife crisis. Martin wants insight
into who his mother really was, but Lola does not want to talk. She just wants his money. Over and over again, characters have the
opportunity to save themselves and others so much grief if they would just act
reasonably. Yet, each time they pass it
up, which becomes dashed distracting.
Leave a vintage car parked on the Tijuana streets with your passport and
cash in the trunk? Sure, why not?
the son of Jacques Demy and Agnès Varda, any film from director-screenwriter-lead
actor Mathieu Demy will come loaded with expectations. Clearly, the name Lola is no
coincidence. However, the younger Demy raises
the stakes, incorporating entire scenes from his mother’s Documenteur, in which he appeared as a child actor, while also lifting
George Delerue’s melancholy soundtrack themes.
While it positions Americano as
a pseudo-sequel, it also highlights the contrast between it and the work of his
parents. At times, viewers can maybe
possibly see some of humanistic solidarity of Varda’s The Gleaners and I in his depiction of the down-trodden Tijuana
working poor, but that’s pushing it.
must be like old Dusk Till Dawn times
for Academy Award nominated Salma Hayek, once again playing a bordertown
stripper. At least her Lola is only a
metaphorical vampire. In truth, she
ultimately plays the character with admirable sensitivity, yet that makes her early
set-up scenes somewhat problematic in retrospect. As Martin, Mathieu Demy is a bland screen
presence leaving little lasting impression.
Despite its seedy setting, Americano is not aiming for cheap titillation. Nonetheless, the sluggish pace makes the
characters’ dubious decision-making all the more conspicuous. Given its lineage, there will definitely be a
constituency for this film hoping it will be better than it is. Fatally underwhelming, it opens this Friday
(6/15) in New York at the Landmark Sunshine.
Labels: French Cinema, Mathieu Demy, Salma Hayek, Strip club movies