I'm No Longer Here
Fernando Frias de la Parra's movie follows a Mexican teen with a love of dance who is forced to emigrate to the U.S.
An awards winner at both the Cairo and Morelia film festivals, Mexican director Fernando Frias de la Parra's second feature is the kind of off-beat foreign language gem that nevertheless sometimes gets forgotten.
After all, there is only enough room in the public consciousness for a few Parasites each year.
However, one hopes it will find an audience on Netflix after it arrives on the service on 27 May, as it's a well-constructed and, at times, a mesmerising and affecting drama that gives a window into a fascinating part of Mexican teen culture.
The film's lead character is Ulises Samperio (Juan Daniel Garcia Trevino), a 17-year-old who lives in the hills of Monterrey and is part of Los Terkos, a group that combines indigenous culture and gang life with a love for Colombian cumbia and vallenato music.
After the death of his brother and in the midst of violent clashes between drug trafficking gangs, he is forced to flee urgently and settles in the no less decadent area of Jackson Heights in Queens, New York.
There, he meets Asian-American teenager Lin (Angelina Chen) after doing some work for her father.
Lin takes a shine to his strong but silent manner - Ulises does not speak any English - as well as his unique hairdo.
Through Ulises's eyes, we see in flashback the life he pines for, including his time with friends back home, their wild celebrations of the cumbia music, and how they all matured as teenagers.
It all makes for a dreamlike movie that can be a little bit difficult to follow, especially for those who do not speak Spanish.
With a non-linear narrative, we skip forward and back between Ulises's struggles in New York and the formative experiences of his past.
It's a formula with drawbacks. At times, it rather takes away from the sense its lead character has been wrenched away from home, and his blooming friendship with Lin is interrupted by these flashbacks.
But there are also advantages - these are capitalised upon by Frias de la Parra and his cinematographer Damian Garcia - who depict the breathtaking vistas that overlook Monterrey's urban sprawl, as well as New York's backstreets, and the non-descript rooftops and alleys.
It is also full of poignant moments, such as when Ulises calls home to make a request on his teenage friends' favourite radio station or shows his new friend videos of his past life as a dancing hero.
Rather like the cumbia music at its centre, I'm No Longer Here is a movie that is at first a little bit perplexing in its exoticity but which gradually worms its way into your affections.
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