17 year-old Mateo and his family are preparing for him to leave their small Mexican village for Los Ángeles, like so many before him. His dream is to work hard in Los Angeles to support his mother and younger brother back home. However, Mateo is dependent upon the support of the local gang – even more than on his family savings – to ensure his safe passage and “help” on the other side. Initially, Mateo is willing to do anything to join the gang; that is, until the leader demands that he kill a rival gang member. Mateo refuses to carry out the murder and the gang leader seeks bitter revenge.
The next day at the local rodeo, Mateo is thrown from a bull and smashes up his leg. His family makes the rash decision to send his kid brother across the border in his place. As a result, the gang leader promises to have Mateo‘s little brother murdered upon his arrival in Los Angeles.
On a quest to save his brother’s life, Mateo races to catch up with him and send him back home safely. In an attempt to finally put an end to the violence, Mateo decides to take his brother‘s place on the road to Los Angeles, thus exposing himself to imminent danger.
“Featuring poetic, naturalistic tones and some light doses of humor, Los Ángeles manages to treat a heavy theme with subtlety and without melodrama, making this promising debut a stand out among all those immigration/gang themed films – and trust me, there are plenty of them …”( PLUME NOIRE )
Taking on a special resonance by screening in the city that gives the film its name, Los Ángeles follows the flow of migration back to its other endpoint across the border in a Zapotec village in Oaxaca. Writer-director Damian John Harper mostly avoids the sensationalism that can come easy to migration stories without effacing the violence and economic pressure that attend to those journeys. He does this by focusing on the homefront and showing the communities that the migrants leave behind, return to, and support. Out of the cluster of characters we follow, three rise to the fore: Mateo (Mateo Bautista Matías), a teenager making preparations for the trip north, which includes joining a gang; Marcos (Marcos Rodríguez Ruíz), who's made his way back home to settle down after years in the States; and Lidia (Lidia García), who waits for word from her incommunicado son...( SLANT )
|Running Time||97 min|
Mateo Bautista Matias
|Directed by||Damian John Harper|
|Original title||Los Ángeles|