Isaacs Picture Conclusions

BACKYARD (2009) THREE TOP HATS

So – the premise of this is such: An astonishing fictional account of the unending series of murders of young women in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, which began in 1996. Most of the victims are low-paid laborers who have been drawn to the town by the possibility of work at American-owned factories. In the film Mexican police officer Blanca Bravo is sent to Cuidad Juarez to investigate and comes to learn realities of these women’s lives, as well as the truth about a police force and local power structure embodied by entrepreneur Mickey Santos that has ceased to care. Well…  I didn’t find this very astonishing – I found it bleak and grim and sad and there’s a disgusting, graphic scene at about an hour and twenty into it that made me want to put this on the Most Unclean page but, this movie is very well made, to be sure. The acting is excellent, the cinematography is really good and the make-up effects are gruesomely realistic but, honestly, aside from those three things, if you take out that scene I mentioned, this isn’t really much more than a two hour episode of CSI: El Paso.

Since we’re on the topic, here are my thoughts on Juarez.  When my friends and I were in high school, we had an amigo who was a Foreign Exchange Student (ha ha FES) who was in town from Juarez. When we graduated and he was set to go back home, we went with him for an extended period of time. This movie is based on the lawlessness and despair of the city of Juarez; to be sure (and not to offend any Juarezian readers) that part up at the north, at the border of the U.S. was pretty shitty – and dangerous, but, if you go deeper south it’s pretty nice (and calm) but everything seemed very old. We’d spend the days playing baseball in soccer fields and drinking warm Carta Blanca by the case and then at might enjoy authentic Mexican food which was always fucking delicious (except for that Menudo – CHRIS). I remember we went bowling a couple of times at this bowling alley that was still using pins and balls from the 50’s and a couple of times we went “up to the strip” which I don’t recall being very safe for anyone. But – the point here is that Juarez isn’t wasn’t that bad (of course this was the early 90’s) and I have nothing but good memories about it (of course a lot of those memories are – um – not there because of too many Carta Blancas).

Anyway – Backyard consists of a female cop named Blanca (Ana de la Reguera) trying to solve the mystery surrounding the turn up of dozens of murdered women’s bodies in the desert sands outside the city. In a side story, a young, naive girl named Sara (Carolina Politi) comes to Juarez to stay with her cousin and look for work. If you’ve seen any movie like this, you probably, kind of know how this is going to end up for her – so if you decide to watch this, be prepared. Blanca’s story: she desperately wants to stop these crimes and put the people committing them to jail forever but she gets no support from the male Policias, no support from anyone and we all know that story. Sara’s story: she goes from innocent farm girl to “city girl” with an unhappy ending. Like I wrote – we’ve all seen this kind of thing before and probably always will, but the acting, cinematography and make-up effects are what make this stand out, such as it is.

Remember – this is very graphic, so be warned. Also – if you think you’ve seen Reguera before, that’s her in Cowboys and Aliens as Maria. Oh yeah, this is a Mexican movie so the dialogue is in “Mexican” – so you have to read it.

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