Mil gracias, truly a thousand thanks, to Cine Las Américas and the Consulate General of Mexico for the presentation of Mexican movie ARRÁNCAME LA VIDA. Directed by Roberto Sneider and based on the highly acclaimed novel by Ángeles Mastretta, ARRÁNCAME LA VIDA was a phenomenal cultural treasure that honored Austin, Texas last Thursday night. It is such unique jewel that makes Austin so rich and it is without a doubt our public role to invite, host, share, and support such international cultural gifts.
I attended the special screening event with award-winning author Ángeles Mastretta in attendance at the Paramount Theatre. The VIP ticket included a pre-screening reception with the author, Consul General Rosalba Ojeda, the Cine Las Américas team and supporters. A valuable evening complete with diverse culture and language, Spanish and English, tasteful bocados, and literary conversation by those supporting Ángeles Mastretta and her novel, as well as film aficionados having seen the movie during its Mexico and Spain 2008 debut, delighted to be sharing their experience of this ethnic gem with the Other. The screening was a benefit for the 13th Cine Las Américas International Film Festival scheduled to begin April 21st lasting through April 29th. I highly recommend this international film festival to support personal cultural growth, increase in language and cultural facility, and simply as a valuable and local experience of the Other.
Starring talented Ana Claudia Talancón as Catalina, enchanting Daniel Giménez Cacho, and handsome José María de Tavira, Arráncame la Vida begins its journey during a transformative period in Mexican history. The Revolution of 1910 is over and the country’s rule is open to whatever politician had the audacity to grab it. Dominating men fight ruthlessly for control, manipulating and exploiting others to gain power. Growing up in 1930s Mexico, Catalina Guzmán knows little of the world beyond her father’s house, unaware of the political storm that looming over the whole country. General Andrés Ascensio is one of the iconic men who exemplifies the concept of Mexican machismo. He arrives unannounced into Catalina’s life, confidently seducing her into marriage. She follows him willingly, entranced by his power, wealth, sexuality and the escape he offers from her provincial life. She is pushed into the tedious existence of a politician’s wife, an endless series of state dinners, public speeches and social obligations. Despite her bravery and enduring spirit, Catalina is encaged by her marriage to Andrés until she meets the young and vibrant Carlos Vives. The handsome orchestra director provides Catalina with her greatest desire, her greatest love and her greatest tragedy. Most importantly, Carlos is the catalyst that transforms Catalina definitively and irrevocably. Based on the iconic novel by Ángeles Mastretta, Arráncame la vida is the story of a young woman searching for freedom and identity during Mexico’s defining era.
Ana Claudia’s portrayal of Cati was authentic. Women in the audience genuinely felt her wide-range of emotions, from her adolescent flirtations, to her anguished loss of love, to her exulted liberation of soul. I heard attempts of caution, consolation, and questioning, all in an attempt to somehow guide Cati in a different direction. But it’s just a movie, one might think. However, Ana Claudia’s acting was so strong and true that it captured not only the audience’s attention, but also engaged its heart.
I was instantly enchanted by Daniel Giménez Cacho’s energy. How can a cunning and malicious cacique be so charming? By his vigorous being did Daniel bring to life a general that could attract and mesmerize an independent and strong will that was Cati. I would be fooling myself to believe I would have been different if in Cati’s shoes. Daniel’s performance of General Andrés Ascencio was tremendous, in every sense of the word. Absolutely tremendous! He was playful, loving, appalling, daring, and simply enticing. Bravo!
The costumes were lovely and beautifully selected. As was the music, so much so, that I will be adding it to my personal collection! Truly a must read & see!
About Ángeles Mastretta
Ángeles Mastretta was born in Puebla, Mexico, in October 1949. She began her writing career as a journalist but when, in 1974, she was awarded a scholarship to attend the Mexican Writers’ Center, she was able to hone her skills with renowned writers such as Juan Rulfo, Salvador Elizondo, and Francisco Monterde. In 1975, La pájara pinta (Colorful Bird), a collection of Mastretta’s poetry, was published. It was not until 1985 that the novel Mastretta had worked on for years, Arráncame la vida (Tear This Heart Out), was published and immediately garnered Mazatlán Prize for Literature for the best book of the year. A stunning success both in Mexico and abroad, the novel quickly cleared a place for Mastretta in the canon of Mexican writers. A warm, charming, and fiercely intelligent presence, Mastretta is famous for artfully crafting fiction that comments on the social and political realities of her country, and for giving birth to some of the most memorable and magical female characters ever caught between the covers of a book. Other titles by Mastretta include Mal de Amores and Mujeres de Ojos Grandes.
About Roberto Sneider
Roberto Sneider’s first feature film, Dos Crímenes, won more than 15 international awards including three Ariels (Mexican Academy Awards). He produced Frida, based on Hayden Herrera’s biography of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, which won two of its six Academy Award nominations. Arráncame la vida is his second feature film as a director, writer and producer. The film won four Ariels and was Mexico’s official submission to the 2009 Academy Awards.
By Ángeles Mastretta
13th Cine Las Américas International Film Festival, April 21 – 29, 2010