Winner of the 2006 Sundance Grand Jury Prize, Sangre de Mi Sangre unfortunately lives down to the dubious nature—with a few notable exceptions—of that so-called honor. It’s as much a con job as the one pulled by Mexican refugee Juan (Armando Hernández), whom we first see running frantically from a few recently ripped-off and pissed-off marks. Fate and happenstance (or, more correctly, screenwriter contrivance) land him in the back of a truck carrying a fresh load of illegal émigrés bound for New York City. On the ride, Juan makes the acquaintance of sad-eyed Pedro (Jorge Adrián Espíndola), whose identity and mission (to seek out his long lost father Diego) he appropriates for himself. Diego, wonderfully portrayed by Jesús Ochoa, supposedly owns a restaurant, so Juan senses a quick and easy score. Through the looking glass we go to the magical land of shaky-cam medium shots where no cliché of class, poverty or race goes unexploited, often at the expense of poor Pedro and his reluctant, my-kingdom-for-some-smack tour guide Magda (Paola Mendoza). The barrel bottom is scraped often, from the callous, cheap-jest punchline of Pedro and Magda’s sojourn to Park Slope (“Delivery!” shouts an adorable little moppet to her off-screen parents after Pedro rings a brownstone doorbell) to the cruel and cowardly way in which both characters are dispatched (via switchblade and cut-to-black) like the plot devices they are. Shocking that the Sundance Institute logo does not append Sangre de Mi Sangre‘s end credits—the virus must finally be airborne. There’s little room for generosity in writer-director Christopher Zalla’s vision (all pseudo-liberal panty twisting to fit a mock-tragic story structure), so what little insight comes through is due entirely to the performers. I won’t soon forget Ochoa’s reverent glance upward at his imposter offspring as he relates a particularly sanguine sexual anecdote. It’s one of the few moments where Sangre de Mi Sangre takes a breather from the manufactured hysteria that is its more frequent stock n’ trade, a genuine diamond amid a slick and pandering pile of Indiewood roughage.
- IFC First Take
- 105 min
- Christopher Zalla
- Christopher Zalla
- Jesús Ochoa, Armando Hernández, Jorge Adrián Espíndola, Paola Mendoza
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