Santitos

A brightly colored, picaresque adventure that's equal parts telenovela melodrama and pop-magic realism, this film marks the auspicious directing debut of Alejandro Springall. A young widow, Esperanza Diaz (Dolores Heredia) shares her home in small town Tlacotalpan, Vera Cruz, with her 14-year-old daughter Blanca (Maya Zapata) and best friend Soledad (Ana...read more

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A brightly colored, picaresque adventure that's equal parts telenovela melodrama and pop-magic realism, this film marks the auspicious directing debut of Alejandro Springall. A young widow, Esperanza Diaz (Dolores Heredia) shares her home in

small town Tlacotalpan, Vera Cruz, with her 14-year-old daughter Blanca (Maya Zapata) and best friend Soledad (Ana Bertha Espin), whose husband has also died recently. Blanca goes into the hospital for minor surgery, but when Esperanza goes to pick her up, she's told the girl has died of a

mysterious virus. The child's coffin is sealed, and the doctor who treated her leaves within a week. Soon after, the grief-stricken Esperanza has a vision of St. Jude in her oven. St. Jude tells Esperanza that Blanca isn't dead at all, that she's been sold into white slavery and is in the "Casa

Rosa," which Esperanza takes to be a brothel. Understandably horrified, Esperanza consults with her priest (Fernando Torre Lapham); though he's somewhat skeptical about her miraculous experience, he urges her to follow the demands of her heart and conscience. So Esperanza embarks on a journey that

takes her to whorehouses in Tijuana and Los Angeles, introduces her to a colorful array of hookers, hustlers and transvestite madames, and eventually deposits her in the arms of an angel. Or, at least, a spandex-clad Mexican wrestler named the Angel of Justice (Alberto Estrella), whom she first

sees trouncing an opponent called La Migra. Like Candide, Esperanza sails through the world's squalor, misery and injustice without being dragged down; her faith in the saints — her santitos — is her armor. Springall, a producer who trained at the London Film School, embraces the

excesses of Mexican popular cinema without giving in to them; like Almodovar, he's self-aware without being condescending. If this film is anything by which to judge, he's a filmmaker to watch.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: R
  • Review: A brightly colored, picaresque adventure that's equal parts telenovela melodrama and pop-magic realism, this film marks the auspicious directing debut of Alejandro Springall. A young widow, Esperanza Diaz (Dolores Heredia) shares her home in small town Tl… (more)

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