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  Cinema Hold Up, The Take It From ThereBuy this film here.
Year: 2011
Director: Iria Gómez Concheiro
Stars: Gabino Rodríguez, Juan Pablo de Santiago, Ángel Sosa, Paulina Avalos, Dolores Heredia, Susana Salazar, María Gelia, Gabriela Reynoso, Juan Manuel Bernal, Roberto de Loera, Carlos Valencia, Luis Javier Becerril, Gustavo Sánchez Parra, Javier Oliván
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: In Mexico, prospects are dim for the urban youth, but they make their way through their days by diverting themselves with various recreational pursuits in lieu of getting a job or studying. Four teenage schoolfriends - Negus (Gabino Rodríguez), Chale (Juan Pablo de Santiago), Sapo (Ángel Sosa) and the sole female Chata (Paulina Avalos) – meander around, filling their time by playing football, listening to music, spray painting elaborate graffiti murals illegally on local walls, and of course getting high, though not on anything stronger than marijuana as they have avoided the harder stuff to this point. But the fact remains, they are not going to get ahead in life by putting off any kind of constructive plans…

As the title - Asalto al cine in its original Spanish – suggests, that quartet of young folks does find a method of making a bit of cash, though for the most part director Iria Gómez Conchiero was less interested in staging a thriller of the well-worn heist variety and more concerned with the lives of an apparent generation of no-hopers. She went into great detail, delineating their aimless existences and bringing across the depressing fact that the best idea they had was to break the law and resort to stealing from their nearby cinema, apparently aggrieved that they were thrown out of it for sneaking in without paying recently, hence making the building the ideal target for their robbery.

Of course, nothing about this is ideal, but the film implies the foursome were too young to know any better, and the police’s habit of harassing them to keep them in line backfires enormously when it simply breeds a generation bearing a massive grudge against any authority figure you care to mention. Only a sentimental feeling for their mothers, though not all of them by any means, shines through as a small ray of redemption, as Negus in particular wishes he could cheer up his parent who appears to be suffering from some kind of depression, yet his older brother who takes every opportunity to do him down sours every aspect of his home life, just as his friends struggle domestically.

All that said, they didn’t spend the whole of the movie slouching around in a state of surly misery, for they do have fun in one another’s company, it’s just that with such scenes as Chale getting turned down for the university place he has applied for, the only path out of his urban depredation as far as we can see and also as far as his desperately disappointed mother sees, the lack of any kind of optimism is hard to ignore. Taking the sort of social realism of many an example of World Cinema, you’d be hard pressed to see any escape route from their dead end lives, yet the hold up is not presented as any solution either, no matter that Conchiero shot it in a tense fashion reminiscent of a slick Hollywood product.

If it was the heist you were here for, you would be getting some satisfaction, though even so it took up a smaller amount of the running time than you might have anticipated. When it arrived, with such asides as the robbers trying to stop laughing as they secrete themselves in their hiding place as they await closing time, this was still not a conventional thriller for all that, though the director certainly displayed a flair for it should her social conscience allow her to indulge her talent for suspense and, to an extent, action. It is still rather jarring to see what have been heretofore rather likeable kids getting into character as ruthless criminals, and that it’s difficult to see what has improved for them in the aftermath leads to more sorrow for us observing them. If it was all a bit one note although not quite grindingly monotonous, then the young cast were very capable, and if otherwise little new was said about prospects in poverty, it was worth saying so emphatically nonetheless. Music by Aldo Max Rodriguez.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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