Mariachi Gringo Reviews
Quirky y divertido con un soundtrack donde cescucharas canciones que marcaron Ã©poca
So seeing the movie had a bit more significance for me, as I know a Mariachi Gringo in real life. And the message in the film also hit home for me too...as I am US-born and bred but decided to take leave of my birthplace for the home of my mother's side of the family.
The film is independent (I think?) though not an art-film...the story really falls more into the popular romantic comedy territory mixed with travelpic. A little cheesy and maybe too slow for some at the beginning but the story of a 30 year-old guy who's heartbroken and depressed, lives with his parents...and had once had the idea of running off with a band...discovers Mexican popular folkloric via the local small-town Kansas Mexican restaurant that would have the father (Alberto) of the owners play guitar on some nights. The themes of many mariachi and other popular Mexican folk songs center around heartbreak and resonates with our protagonist. When Alberto suffers a stroke, Ashmore's character decides to finally run off, and goes down to Guadalajara, in the state of Jalisco, the birthplace of the Mariachi ensemble and the music to try and become a mariachi musician. He randomly is helped by a girl (played by Martha Higareda) when he runs into some trouble on his first night on the streets of GDL, and they become friends. Her family runs a local restaurant, and so through her, our mariachi gringo starts finding his way to establish himself a little and later auditions to join a mariachi. Higadera's character also ends up mirroring Ashmore's, both having a dream and suffering from heartbreak in some form. It plays with some sexual tension between the two but they never become anything more than friends and have some clashes...and the ending really I think takes a great turn (though will disappoint those wanting to see the Hollywood ending).
The movie was well shot....really made good use of the money invested into it, great locations chosen in Guadalajara. It really gives the outsider a nice tour of the city and hints at the local flavor here (police corruption, the Mexican gay community, GDL being the ancestoral home of mariachi), the drama was not too cheesy and in fact takes twists that most might not have expected from the start of the movie. Ashmore did a good job, I suppose he had to learn some Spanish for the role as well as learn how to play the guitar and vihuela. His singing voice wasn't so strong...but hey, not everyone is born a mariachi which demands some lungs :D Lila Downs' singing was great (she plays Higareda's older friend that fronts a band not dissimilar to Lila's own backing group, oh wait it is her band :P)...though at times her performance on the stage was a bit much for the low key tone of the film.
So in the end, it's a cute movie. It's pretty mainstream in concept but hopefully will open the eyes of people that don't know much about Mexico and it's culture looking at it through the eyes of the mariachi gringo and has nice touches to finish off as a non-traditional movie of it's genre. 3.5-4 stars from me :)