Originally written for Cinemaaxis.com
Artemio manages to both be an incredibly natural feeling documentary, one where the fourth wall is rarely if ever broken, and a film that fails to deliver the message intended. A running time of under fifty minutes doesn’t help this unfortunate combination, as we are not given enough time to become invested in the story. We somewhat get to know young Artemio’s and his mother’s nature, but the narrative isn’t explored in a way that is easy to follow or even get a grasp on.
The synopsis: Artemio was born in U.S.A. When Coco, his mother, is unable to secure an American visa, the pair must move to the small town in Guerrero and live with a new family. Despite his roots are in Mexico, Artemio still doesn’t feel like a part of it. Through phone calls with those left behind we get a glimpse into the reality of the pairs.
Early on, talks about a flight to Cancun are discussed without any context. Coco explains she can’t force Artemio onto a flight, but it is unclear why, especially as we get to know him and his seemingly carefree nature. We soon hear of possible trips to other places, such as Utah, where we first get a hint of what may be happening. But without the above plot synopsis, it is a tall task to understand what is occurring.
Additionally, the phone calls that ‘bring Artemio’s roots to life’ are barely existent. Many simply go to voicemail; there is perhaps one phone call that brings home any emotion, but with such little context to surround it, there is no impact. Perhaps the intent was to induce the dread that they faced, but if so it isn’t apparent. From a technical standpoint this is a very well-made film, unfortunately it is too short to fully realise its ambitions.
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