Journey of the heart
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 03/15/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film received many international awards, including the Latin American Cinema Award at the Sundance Film Festival, where it had its premiere in 1999. It is the directorial debut of Alejandro Springall, and the screenplay is by Maria Amparo Escandon, based on her novel.
It is about a bizarre journey from Vera Cruz to Los Angeles and back again, as the naïve, childlike, widow Esperanza seeks to find out what happened to her daughter, and relies on supernatural visions to guide her, which eventually prove that God works in mysterious ways when it comes to matters of the heart, for both maternal and romantic love.
Her circuitous pilgrimage takes her through Tijuana, the world of prostitution (which at times unfortunately is somewhat idealized in this film), to the professional wrestling arena. Dolores Heredia is exquisite as Esperanza, the mother who never gives up hope, and others in the cast include Demian Bechir as Cocomixtle the pimp, Alberto Estrella as Angel the wrestler, and Fernando Torre Lapham as Father Salvador.
With rich, colorful cinematography by Xavier Perez Grobert, and a good soundtrack (Carlo Nicolau and Rosino Serrano), this film is filled with wonderful imagery and excellent acting, but just misses the mark for me. Total running time approximately 100 minutes."
A Hint of the Latin American Magical Realism
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 05/29/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"SANTITOS is a charmingly rendered film based on a novel by Maria Amparo Escandon and directed by Alejandro Springall, a film that has a parable of a story told in a magical realism manner that is so endearing in Latin American culture. This particular film comes to us from Mexico and is filmed in Vera Cruz, Tijuana, and Los Angeles. Briefly, Esperanza (or "hope" in translation and played by Dolores Heredia) has lost her 13-year-old daughter to a mysterious virus during a routine tonsillectomy. Mystery surrounds her death and her burial and in Esperanza's grief she is visited by St Jude (in dirty oven door!) who 'reveals' that her daughter is still alive. Esperanza visits her priest Father Salvador (played by Fernando Torre Lapham in one of the finer comic roles in Latin cinema) who recommends she search for the daughter St Jude has advised 'in a secret miracle' is still alive. She attempts to dig up the sealed coffin but is thwarted. Further 'advice' suggests her daughter may have been sold into prostitution so she travels first to Tijuana and ultimately to Los Angeles, seeking her daughter. The lessons of her journey - including the discovery of true love in the form of an angel - Angel is a wrestler who wears a mask and feathery wings (played by Alberto Estrella) - and ultimately returns to Vera Cruz and an ending to her journey that is as surprising as its inception. There is a wonderful sense of magic to the sets, the costumes, the vast assortment of Santos that appear everywhere, and yes, even to the acting, which always walks graciously along the path that borders excess. It all works and makes the story fun, touching, and ultimately insightful. In Spanish with English subtitles."
An unusual, but a very interesting story!
LEE | Seattle, WA United States | 08/17/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The other reviewers have given a good description of the storyline so I won't repeat it. I did find the storyline to be incredibly unique and so un-Hollywood.
In a nutshell, it's the story of a very religious woman, Esperanza, who works as a prostitute in the brothels of Tijuana and Los Angeles in search of her 12-year-old daughter. It was amazing to see the internal conflict that Esperanza has with herself working as a prostitute and her strong religious beliefs. This is a woman who is torn between two worlds. Through it all, Esperanza finds peace, happiness, and love.
I'm only giving this 4-stars. Although I found it to be a very good movie, it isn't one that I would see over and over again. For about 80-90% of the movie, I though it was a somewhat dark and depressing movie, although it did have it's funny moments and a very happy ending.
Unusually interesting ...
Sharad Yadav | 11/09/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Yet another interesting movie from Mexico. The story revolved around Esperanza whose daughter dies mysteriously and suddenly to a seemingly unknown virus. Surprisingly, the medics do not allow her to see the body lest spreading the unknown virus and to add the surprise the doctor who operated on Esperanza's daughter goes missing as well. Esperanza receives a vision from St. Jude urging her to find her daughter who may not be dead after all. This triggers of a mother's journey to seek her lovely daughter. She gets some leads that her daughter might have been relegated to brothels in Tijuana and across the border. Under the guidance of a local priest, she steps into the dark world of lust & prostitution. She doesn't find her daughter, but meets a very handsome wrestler en route and falls in love. She is now torn between the sorrow of losing her daughter, despair of not finding her and excitement of new love. She then receives a vision of her daughter who tells her that they'll always be together. Esperanza gets the subtle message and moves on her with life whilst preserving memories of her daughter in her heart forever.
There are many subtle (and directed to perfection) moments in the movie. I really liked the confessions between Esperanza and the local priest. The local pimp plays a seedy, but effective role as well.
Dolores Heredia plays her part as Esperanza role to near perfection.