The beauty of Michel Franco’s new film “April’s Daughter” is that it captures the light of the Mexican sun. From the first scene, in a beach house in Puerto Vallarta, with three young people making breakfast in the kitchen, cracking eggs, to the climatic scene of confrontation between mother and daughter in the street, the film is luminous with the white glow that I know well from my own sojourns in the country. No matter that the subject—-a girl’s trouble-provoking pregnancy—-is dark. It is a pleasure to watch each scene, and indulge in the clean simple look and gentle pacing.
The story is as simple as the light: an underage girl becomes pregnant, and her mother comes to help. The help she offers seems at first to be very kind, and then shifts, gradually, into something more manipulative, and inadvertently cruel.
Throughout we have a glimpse of a common trauma in Mexico today: the fractured family. The mother is alone, having been left by her husband for a much younger woman. The father could not care less about his pregnant daughter. The boy who tries to take on his own paternal role with his child has the spine of a fish when it comes to assuming responsibility for his girlfriend. It is a world where men fail to live up to the role of the paternal protector, and women are inept to be mothers. The newborn, at one point, has to fend for herself.
I asked Michel Franco at his press conference in Cannes what inspired his film.
“A story I read in the newspaper,” the young director said steadily, in the same sincere voice I remembered from the last time I interviewed him, about his stellar (and icily cold) film “Chronic” (2015). “It was about a teenage girl who lived in the street with her baby. There are many such stories in Mexico….“
Read the rest at Huffington Post.
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