Chicuarotes Drama

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures: A TIFF Review of ‘Chicuarotes’

September 23, 2019Ben MK

When two friends from a poor Mexico City neighborhood kidnap the wrong child in a misguided attempt at extorting money from the parents, they find their world turned upside down, in the second film from director Gael García Bernal.

A followup to his feature directorial debut, 2007's Déficit, Bernal returns to the screen with the story of Cagalera (Benny Emmanuel) and Moloteco (Gabriel Carbajal), a pair of down-on-their-luck teens from San Gregorio Atalpulco, who have turned to committing petty crimes in order to survive. From donning clown makeup and robbing their fellow bus passengers at gunpoint, to robbing a lingerie store, Cagalera and Moloteco are willing to try almost anything to just to put food in their mouths. However, when they decide to graduate to more serious criminal offences by kidnapping the son of Chillamil (Daniel Giménez Cacho), an intimidating figure known locally as "the Butcher," they soon begin to regret their actions.

Shockingly violent and dark at times, though not devoid of humor, Chicuarotes walks the line between comedy and drama, a balancing act that the movie doesn't always pull off. That said, it's hard not to empathize with these characters, and ultimately, this is what ends up being the film's saving grace.

Chicuarotes makes its North American premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 35 min.

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