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Director: Jorge Michel Grau
Screenplay: Jorge Michel Grau
Cast: Adrián Aguirre, Miriam Balderas, Francisco Barreiro, Carmen Beato
Producers: Nicolás Celis, Liliana Pardo
Print Source: IFC Films
North american Premiere
2009 | 11 min
Papa’s never brought anything but misery to his wife and three kids. His inability to pay off his debts has led to the loss of their stall at the local market, the family’s only source of revenue. When his two sons break the news to their mom, she explodes with anger. But on the part of her incompetent husband, it’s really nothing new. After all, the only thing the loser ever seems to do right is bringing prostitutes home. In that respect, things are the same as ever, despite the financial collapse hanging over the whole family’s heads. But further news, brought home by the youngest of the brood, proves that big changes are afoot. From here on, things will be very different. Because today, dad has died. It’s truly a catastrophe because for all his flaws, he’s the one who kept his kin alive. If he came home with hookers, it wasn’t to get his jollies but to feed his family. He was the backbone of a clan of cannibals that survives by devouring human flesh during exacting, esoteric rituals. Someone must now take his place as the master of ceremonies. The task falls to the first-born Alfredo, who’s less that enthusiastic about donning his dad’s mantle. He and his brother must scour the streets in search of a new victim, avoiding the corrupt cops investigating a series of sordid killings. Night is falling over Mexico, and the hunt is on.
By placing elements of the cannibal-movie genre in a realist context, the brilliant WE ARE WHAT WE ARE by Mexico’s Jorge Michel Grau is the latest of the recent wave of innovatively reconsidered spooky movies which included the unforgettable LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. As with that film, the emphasis here is on the drama in the lives of the credible characters rather than on the horrific aspect. In capturing the tragedy of a family is distress, for who survival hangs by a thread, Grau is closer to Loach than to Deodato. Armed with a portable camera on a constant state of alert, the director dives into the savage side of Mexico, into its sleazier neighbourhoods where cops are essentially criminals and cannibals can blend into the background of the ground-down and marginalized. The film hasn’t forgotten its roots, though, delivering violence as brutal as its atmosphere and arriving at a powerful climax that will have you holding your breath right up to the final credits. Without question, one of the finest genre films of the year.