Güeros review – smart debut with a cheeky, eccentric dash

This moody and seductive black-and-white Mexican road movie is a meandering, circling tale that never looks less than gorgeous

Maybe there’s more style than substance here, and maybe more studenty cinephilia than either. But what flair, what humour, what eccentric dash – with a bit of Spike Lee and a bit more of Jim Jarmusch. This debut feature in moody black-and-white from 37-year-old Mexican film-maker Alonso Ruizpalacios comes to the UK having won a string of festival awards. It’s seductive and cheekily self-indulgent: a meandering, self-circling road movie that never looks anything other than gorgeous. Tomás (Sebastián Aguirre) is a lairy teen who has driven his single mum mad with stress.

(Tomás incidentally gets called “güeros”, meaning egg, a reference to his blondness and callow youth – but everyone else gets called the same thing.) So he gets sent to live with his older brother Federico (Tenoch Huerta), a student in Mexico City, who turns out to be almost catatonic with depression, prone to anxiety attacks, crucified with guilt for failing to support a student strike for reasons that turn out to be personal and emotional. The two brothers go on a weird, unacknowledged quest throughout the city, with Federico’s room-mate and on-off girlfriend, connected with their mutual love of a Mexican folk-singer – and Ruizpalacious conjures some tremendous crowd scenes. A very smart debut.

Contributor

Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The Hippopotamus review – eccentric adaptation of Stephen Fry's novel
Roger Allam elevates a wonky country house mystery with a wholeheartedly verbose performance

Mike McCahill

01, Jun, 2017 @5:00 AM

Article image
Ilo Ilo review – novelistic Singaporean debut by Anthony Chen

A brattish boy finds friendship with the domestic servant employed by his stressed-out parents in an impressive and sweet debut by a new Asian talent, writes Peter Bradshaw

Peter Bradshaw

01, May, 2014 @2:30 PM

Article image
Smart Ass review – so-so French drama about sex and money

Kim Chapiron's drama has an intriguing setup – a trio of business school grads applying market theory to hookup culture – but it's not very funny or sexy writes Leslie Felperin

Leslie Felperin

24, Jul, 2014 @8:30 PM

Article image
The Water Diviner review – Russell Crowe’s fervent, fanciful directing debut
A self-conscious, underpowered Crowe plays an Australian man looking for his missing sons after Gallipoli in this well-intentioned, laborious movie

Peter Bradshaw

02, Apr, 2015 @9:45 PM

Article image
Touchy Feely review – smart drama about emotional troubles and healing hands
Lynn Shelton's tale of a masseuse who develops an aversion to skin is acted with touching authenticity, writes Leslie Felperin

Leslie Felperin

15, May, 2014 @9:00 PM

Article image
I Am Not Madame Bovary review – smart satire cuts through China's bureaucracy
Fan Bingbing is on fine form as an obstinate divorcee-to-be in a singular film that is ultimately worth the effort it requires

Steve Rose

26, May, 2017 @6:00 AM

Article image
Our Kind of Traitor review – Ewan McGregor gets smart in Le Carré potboiler
This is meat-and-potatoes Le Carré given a generic spy-movie treatment, but still it reels you in

Mike McCahill

12, May, 2016 @8:30 PM

Article image
Paddington review
This big-screen outing for Michael Bond’s intrepid ursine hero is a treat for grown-ups as well as kids, writes Peter Bradshaw

Peter Bradshaw

27, Nov, 2014 @10:58 PM

Article image
Faust – review

Peter Bradshaw: Sokurov's version of Goethe's tragedy is part bad dream, part music-less opera, with hallucinatory flashes of fear

Peter Bradshaw

10, May, 2012 @8:43 PM

Filth – review

James McAvoy gives it plenty of welly in the brutal screen version of Irvine Welsh's 1998 novel, writes Peter Bradshaw

Peter Bradshaw

03, Oct, 2013 @8:45 PM