El Jeremias Review

Austin Film Festival Review: El Jeremí­as

Score:B+

Director:Anwar Safa

Cast:Martín Castro, Karem Momo Ruiz, Isela Vega

Running Time:95 Minutes

Rated:NR

El Jeremías, the first feature film from director Anwar Safa, tells the story of Jeremy, an incredibly bright 8-year-old boy living in northwest Mexico with his incredibly average family. Jeremy has always been a strange kid misunderstood by his family and peers, but when Jeremy finds out that he's actually a genius, he must figure out how to mesh his upbringing and his intelligence. It's a sweet film full of heart and easy to watch.

Martín Castro, the young boy who plays Jeremy, is a joy to follow on screen. Besides being absolutely adorable, he instills Jeremy with the right mix of innocence and precociousness. The end result is that I found myself smiling through almost the whole thing. Safa said later that his visual style is very much influenced by Wes Anderson and his symmetrical shots, vibrant colors, and sense of fun definitely serve as evidence.  El Jeremías could easily be a dark film.

Jeremy is incredibly intelligent, able to quote philosophers at will. His family has financial troubles and their main collective character trait is ignorance. It could easily have turned into a "me against the world" scenario. Instead, Jeremy comes to realize the importance of his family and relies less on the importance of his own intelligence. In a world where the most educated often scorn the less educated; it was incredibly refreshing to see a realistic portrayal of the two not being mutually exclusive. Plenty of families are unable, for whatever reason, to receive a good education. This doesn't mean they're somehow "lesser" than anyone with more education under their belt. It's a message that can all too frequently be ignored in favor of broader comedy.

The portrayal of Jeremy's family and surroundings are clearly important to Safa and his screenwriter/wife Ana Sofía Clerici. Most of the time, those of us in America associate Mexico with drugs and violence. However the reality is that while those are problems, many families in Mexico live happy, fulfilled lives all over the country, not just in Mexico City. It seems strange to applaud the film for portraying an average Mexican family, but this scenario is so often lacking on any screen that it must be highlighted.

El Jeremías is an impressive film full of heart and fun. It's clear that a lot of love and time went into this film and the lead, Martín Castro, manages to helm the entire thing flawlessly at just eight years old. If you like cute kids, endearing families, and want a break from watching drug wars on the border,  El Jeremías is the film for you.

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About Katie Anaya

Katie Anaya

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