Movie review: We are what we are

Movie review: We are what we are
Cinema still: We Are What We Are

Movie Review

WE ARE WHAT WE ARE (R21)

Duration: 90 minutes

Ratings: 3.5/5

The story: The death of a nondescript middle-aged man on the street starts a chain of events for his family. They fly into a panic: What will they do, given that he is the hunter who brings home humans for their cannibalistic rituals?

His sons, the gentle Alfredo (Francisco Barreiro) and the volatile Julian (Alan Chavez), take a few bungling steps at snaring prey, egged on by cold, fearsome mother Patricia (Carmen Beato) and more maternal sister Sabina (Paulina Gaitan).

This film has generated much buzz on the festival circuit and an American arthouse remake is on the way.

That tells you about as much as you need to know: This is not quite a horror movie in the traditional sense. Nothing much happens until the final third, when all hell breaks loose. The setup is slow and sombre. Bits of background emerge at a leisurely pace.

In their small, cluttered and shabby Mexico City apartment, family members mutter ominously about a sacred ritual and how it should never be allowed to stop. They bicker constantly about whose job it is and who should take responsibility.

They might be talking about doing the dishes or taking care of an ageing parent, but it becomes clear they are talking about snaring their fellow citizens and taking them indoors for a butchering on the kitchen table.

This is a story about family culture, a topic much beloved of arthouse cinema. The home can be a hothouse where some rather bizarre flowers bloom.

The two sons and daughters are well adapted for life within the confines of the apartment; but outside, they are a mess, constantly misreading social cues, either by under-reacting or over-reacting. Only their dead father could navigate both worlds.

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