Lupe Under the Sun had the potential to be promising. It examines the life of a Mexican migrant living in California, eking out a meager existence as a fruit-picker. The film could have provided a searing and relevant insight into the challenges of working and living as an outsider at such a politically-charged time. It doesn’t.
Beginning with a child’s version of events, told to them by their grandfather who crossed the border to find – and earn – a better way of life, Lupe Under the Sun does ring true. Director Rodrigo Reyes has hung the film on similar stories from his own life, but is unable to conjure up any atmosphere. The all-but-silent soundtrack – the mood is naturalism, and Lupe is a man of few words – is dangerously lulling, bar the odd, jarring bursts of opera. Reyes has opted for non-professional actors, and while this gives a realistic, low-key feel to the film, the minimal dialogue does begin to come across as a little lazy. Having said this, the mute stubbornness of Lupe is weirdly charming, particularly in the face of his visit to the doctor.
Revelling in its bleak and repetitive tone, Lupe Under the Sun accurately portrays the nondescript nature of everyday life, particularly for a character who has been separated from his family and questions the significance of his existence. There are, however, only so many shots of his 4am alarm and slurps from his never-ending supply of beer cans that an audience can endure.
Taking “slow-paced” to new heights, Lupe Under the Sun depicts so little that it becomes a bit confusing. Try as an audience might with such a worthy topic, it ends up more like a hollow set of photographs of a man’s life, with minimal context apparent, than a thoughtful film.
CAST: Daniel Muratalla, Ana María Muratalla
DIRECTOR: Rodrigo Reyes
WRITER: Rodrigo Reyes
SYNOPSIS: The tough, grinding life of a poor Mexican fruit-picker, day in and day out, who is based in California.