SXSW Review: Los Chidos
5:00 PM on 03.15.2012
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Omar Rodriguez-Lopez is best known for his music career as a member of both At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta. However, what most people are unaware of is that Rodriguez-Lopez has also been writing, directing, and producing his own films. His latest, Los Chidos, is ambitious in its exploration of social roles. Yet, at the same time, it's also completely outrageous and over-the-top, which may help broaden its appeal.
Director: Omar Rodriguez-Lopez
Los Chidos is about the Gonzalez family, a tight-knit family living in a small Mexican town. Their daily routine consists of laying around at a garage the Padre owns, eating special tacos the Madre makes for them. However, their routine is derailed when an American man, Kim, stumbles upon the garage in need of a tire. At first resistant and cold, the family warms up to Kim, essentially taking him in as one of their own. However, each member of the family is involved in some sort of "social taboo," categorizing them into a defined role in which they play.
The roles as defined in the film are extreme caricatures of various characters found in society. The character I believe to be one of the most pivotal of the film is The Exploiter, a neighbor of the Gonzalez family that is very abusive to his girlfriend. Yet, he constantly apologizes for his missteps. Secretly, however, he is a cross dresser in a relationship with another man where he himself plays the submissive, "female" role in the relationship. This is a prime example of the extremities Rodriguez-Lopez brings the film, as well as the type of social themes he's analyzing with Los Chidos.
To add to the satirical nature of the film is Rodriguez-Lopez' decision to not retain any live sound from filming. Rather, he chose to add dialogue in post-production, sometimes mixing women for male characters, older actors for younger characters, etc. This choice was made to not only accentuate the satirical nature of the film, but to also bring attention to the dialogue and verbal themes that Rodriguez-Lopez was attempting to focus on. However, while it's ambitious and fits the goal that he's striving for, it ends up being too distracting within the confines of how film works. It definitely takes you out of the fantasy that films usually try to do, instead making it VERY apparent that what you're doing is watching a film.
I think that might be the problem with Los Chidos. Rodriguez-Lopez is VERY ambitious with the themes he's exploring, but such deep analysis is sometimes undercut with how exaggerated and over-the-top the film is. The basis of a good satire is to find an extreme way to analyze social problems. What Rodriguez-Lopez is analyzing are gender roles and the misogynistic tendencies in male-dominated families, but they're contrasted with some extremely graphic scenes.
It's admittedly hard to review Los Chidos because there's so much in the film that Rodriguez-Lopez is using to formulate his thoughts. It's a bit entertaining, sure, but there are harrowing elements, like the dubbed voice-overs, that can distract you and possibly take away from the "film experience." Los Chidos definitely isn't for everyone; it caters more towards the art-house crowd that can appreciate the deeper elements that Rodriguez-Lopez is analyzing. For everybody else, there might be some entertaining qualities found within Los Chidos... just don't be put-off by how off-putting it can be.
THE VERDICT: 70/100
Los Chidos - Reviewed by Geoff Henao
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