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August 08, 2007

Sin sostén (1998)

Despite its troubled history, Mexican cinema has had a long and interesting life since the first motion picture was shown in the country back in 1895. While it has been the source of several masterpieces and the industry where many directors and cinematographers showed their talents, Mexican cinema hasn't had a regular development and the lack of presence of animation in Mexican films is the best example of this. Through its more than 100 years of history, very few animated films have been released, as the few artists that dedicate their talents to this style find little aid to develop their projects. However, lately this seems to be changing and film animation is beginning to grow in the country. One of its most ardent supporters has been René Castillo, who along director Antonio Urrutia, debuted in 1998 with the clay animation short film "Sin Sostén".

In "Sin Sostén" (literally "No Support"), is the story of what happens the night a man decides to kill himself by jumping from the apartment building where he lives. Sad and disappointed with his life, our hero climbs to the top of the building in the middle of the night and prepares to jump. As he climbs up by the fire escape, some neighbors are awaken by the noise he makes but few realize that this man is serious in his intention. At the top of the building, only the images of two giant billboards witness his actions: the cowboy in the cigarette's advertisement, and the voluptuous model in the one for lingerie. After contemplating the sexy figure of the model for the last time, or hero jumps, but the model doesn't want him to die, so she comes alive and asks the cowboy to use his lasso in order to help her save the poor guy.

Written by directors René Castillo and Antonio Urrutia, "Sin Sostén" is a very good black comedy that, with a nice touch of fantasy, manages to be very funny despite the sad themes it explores. While the plot is very simple, it makes an interesting point on how our hero, despite living in a highly populated city, can only find comfort and help in the fictional persons of the billboards while his neighbors only watch him jump to his death with indifference. Exploring themes such as loneliness and hopelessness in a comedy is hard, but Castillo and Urrutia make it work smoothly without many problems, developing a charming, yet bittersweet story filled with many good gags and some unpredictable plot twists that give it a different style. It's also worth to point out that "Sin Sostén" also means "without brassier" in Spanish, making a double-entendre that nicely gives away the mood of this short film.

Both Castillo and Urrutia make an excellent job directing this movie, with Castilo focusing on the animation process and Urrutia commanding the narrative of the film. The artistic work done by Castillo's team is simply gorgeous, with a very fluid animation and a very appropriate character design that suits nicely the touch of fantasy the film has. The influence of modern clay animators like Henry Selick can be felt, but with Sergio Ulloa's excellent cinematography, Castillo gives the movie a very Mexican touch, creating an atmosphere that, while fantastic, still feels like the Mexican urban landscape. However, if Castillo's work of animation is the heart of the film, Urrurita's directing is the soul, as his subtle handling of the different emotions in "Sin Sostén" (not unlike what he did in his previous work, 1996 short film, "De Tripas, Corazón") is what makes the film so special.

It took the directors a year and a half to finish the movie, but in the end all their efforts were worthy. In a country without a real tradition of film animation, "Sin Sostén" proved that it wasn't late for Mexico to begin one, and that there were many talented animators interested in taking their art to cinema. While Urrutia went on to direct his first feature length movie (2002's "Asesino en Serio"), René Castillo followed "Sin Sostén" with another animated short film, 2001's "Hasta Los Huesos" (again with Sergio Ulloa), a movie in which he took what he did in this film to the next level. It'll be nice to see how Mexican animation develops in the following years. Melancholic, yet strangely optimistic, this bittersweet short tale of fantasy is a short film that definitely deserves to be seen.

8/10



1 comment:

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