Review by Dan Skip Allen
The depiction of LGBTQ culture in films is a little bit hit and miss. There have been some great films dealing with this part of America and the world. Getting the gay and lesbian community right in movies is the key to whether or not the movie is good or bad. Films such as Brokeback Mountain, Blue is the Warmest Color, Boys Don't Cry, and Moonlight got this culture correct and it showed in the end product. I Carry You With Me is another film dealing with the gay and lesbian culture. It's also one of the best films of the year so far.
Ivan (Armando Espitia) is a young man who works in a kitchen as a handyman/dishwasher in Puebla, Mexico in 1994. He has a son he helps take care of as well. At night, he lives a secret life as a gay man. His friend Sandra (Michelle Rodríguez) is the only one who knows. While out drinking one night, he meets another gay man, Gerardo (Christian Vazquez). They strike up a relationship with one another, but Ivan has a bigger dream than just having a relationship and working in a low-level position in a kitchen in Mexico. He wants to own his own restaurant.
At the heart of this film is the love story of two people who can't live without one another. As children and as teens, they went through a lot to become who they would be as adults. Growing up in Mexico wasn't easy on them. All of the time people want to leave Mexico to come to America for a better life, even though America isn't necessarily a good place for undocumented Mexicans. It's tough at first for them to get a footing in America, but when do they genuinely find their experience in this country rewarding and fulfilling?
Heidi Ewing, the director, and Alan Page, her writing partner on the script, create a beautiful film of love yet struggle as well. The two main characters go through a lot to be together at the end of the film. The struggle in the middle is what this film stands on. The flashbacks are very solid as well. There is a twist to this film that was very interesting though. This film had a documentary feel to it that I didn't see coming. Ewing and Page made the documentary angle one of fact and not fiction. This film is based on these men's real life. That was a very good part of an almost perfect film.
The acting by both the teen actors was very good in the film. The stand-out was Armando Espitia though. He brought an emotional take on his character that helped the audience including me care about his journey and where he ended up after everything he went through. He had to do a lot of soul searching to find this character that's for sure. The other performances in the film were all solid as well. The father figure couldn't have been easy to play. He came across as very effective in the film.
One of the things that makes this film grounded in reality is the cinematography by Juan Pablo Ramirez. It has a gritty yet lively feeling to it. The scenes of Mexico are very bright and in contrast to the darker colder scenes in New York. Some great shots of snow falling while looking up a bridge were just gorgeous shots. The documentary-style was a little bit better shot than the other stuff, though that shouldn't take away from the scenes in Mexico.
I Carry You With Me has a beautiful story of these two teens who try to keep their love for one another over many years. It's two distinctly different films in a way but seamlessly put together by the director Ewing. The cinematography helps in that regard. It melds scenes together. The acting by all is very good, but the stand out is Espitia in the leading role. In the end, this film has a lot to say about the gay and lesbian culture while being a very effective story about family and the Mexican culture as well. Fighting for what you want in life can be hard, but rewarding and uplifting in the end.
I Carry You With Me hits theaters on June 25.