Based on the 2012 young adult novel of the same name by Benjamin Alire Sáenz comes Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, helmed by writer-director Aitch Alberto. Set in 1987 El Paso, this coming-of-age romance follows two Mexican American teenagers, Aristotle “Ari” Mendoza (Max Pelayo) and Dante Quintana (Reese Gonzales), who meet one blistering summer afternoon at the community pool and find an instant connection.

Alberto’s feature directorial debut stars young newcomers in the titular roles, but Pelayo and Gonzales manage to hold their own even amongst seasoned actors such as Eugenio Derbez and Eva Longoria, delivering inspired and powerful performances that breathe life into these beloved characters. 

It’s a challenge to adapt a novel for the big screen, especially with stories such as this that are rife with internal struggle, and there are times where you can feel the story strain beneath the weight of these issues. Side characters and storylines are unable to be fully developed due to the amount of material needed to be covered, but with the liberties Alberto has taken with visual metaphors as well as the chemistry seen between the two leads, this film still succeeds at drawing us into this world. It’s a world grounded in reality made possible with Akis Konstantakopoulos’ cinematography and Denise Hudson’s production design that transport us back to the 80’s, along with a hint of magic shown in everyday moments through love, acceptance, and a bit of surrealism.

Despite the occasional stumble, it’s a beautiful, heartwarming film that does justice to a story that has meant a lot to so many people who hold these characters near to their hearts, and the appreciation and care taken by everyone behind the scenes makes Aristotle and Dante truly special.



CAST: Max Pelayo, Reese Gonzales, Eugenio Derbez, Eva Longoria, Veronica Falcón, Kevin Alejandro

DIRECTOR: Aitch Alberto

WRITER: Aitch Alberto

SYNOPSIS: Two Mexican American teenagers find an instant connection in 1987 El Paso. Based on the bestselling novel by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.