Friday, August 20, 2010

A Movie a Day, day 96: Romántico

“Silence has been destroyed, but also the idea that it’s important to learn how another person thinks, to enter the mind of another person,” said Gary Shteyngart in a recent interview with the New York Times Magazine. “The whole idea of empathy is gone. We are now part of this giant machine where every second we have to take out a device and contribute our thoughts and opinions.” He’s exaggerating for effect, I suppose, and writers who are frustrated because they don’t have more readers aren’t exactly unbiased reporters of cultural decline. Why should expressing your opinion make you care less about what other people have to say? Isn’t it possible that oversharing is making us more sensitive to all the different perspectives out there?

I sure hope so, because Romántico just reminded me of one of the things I love about movies: A well-done character study can teach us a lot about how someone else thinks and experiences the world. And I’d hate to think that people wouldn’t be moved by this story, which outlines what may be the quintessential American experience of the 21st century while introducing us to a man I won’t soon forget.

Romántico starts out following two close friends from Salvatierra, Mexico, Carmelo Muñiz Sánchez and Arturo Arias. The two crossed over to the U.S. separately, each intent on earning money to send to the families they couldn’t support in Mexico. But when Carmelo found himself adrift in LA he joined Arturo in San Francisco, where the two formed a mariachi band, performing for tips in bars and restaurants in the city’s Mexican district. Read the rest on The House Next Door, Slant Magazine's blog.


  1. Thank you for such moving and accurate review! This movie is a little gem and it is tragic that it was not widely distributed. For all the thousands of hateful, prejudicial and violent words written against men like Carmelo, this is a work of art that exemplifies the humble truth the millions of Carmelos live in a divided reality of their daily lives: working hard for their American dream in a foreign and harsh reality while yearning for bright, sunny happy Mexico with their families.

  2. And thank you for telling me about this movie, Leonila! I'm so glad I got to see it. After complaining for so long about not being able to find any good movies about the "illegal" immigrant experience, which is such a defining experience of this age (,, it was a special pleasure to be led to one that, as you say, exemplifies that experience.