“Nobody wants to know the truth.”
Watching the previews leading up to the Mexican thriller Conejo en la Luna, my hopes began to sink. The trailers shown for other films tended towards the romantic, the gang-related, and nothing really appealed. I’ve noticed that often trailers tend to set the tone for the film I am about to watch. Well at least it’s this way for me. If the trailers are unappealing, then it seems as though there’s a good chance that the film isn’t anything interesting either. Has anyone else notice this? Those who select trailers for DVDS must do so with the idea in mind: ‘if they rented/bought this film, then chances are they might like this one too.’
Anyway, here I am watching lousy trailers with my hopes for Conejo en la Luna swiftly plummeting. But as it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised by this Mexican film–it is one of those edge-of-your seat thrillers–almost from beginning to end. I’ll admit it did have a few down moments in the second half.
From writer/director Jorge Ramirez Sanchez, this taut thriller begins with the backdrop to the main story–the massive web of police and political corruption in Mexico. Mexican politicians broker weapons deals with rogue British Ministry of Defence officials as millions exchange hands and end up in Swiss bank accounts. When one minister objects–not to the corruption, of course, but to the size of his cut–he is assassinated by a street bum named Crazy Face who’s been set to do the job by the next man on the totem pole of crime, chubby Gordo Corona (Carlos Cobo). The plan is that Crazy Face will make the hit on the greedy politico, and then another assassin will ‘off’ Crazy Face in a Jack-Ruby-tying-up-loose-ends way.
But things go wrong. Crazy Face isn’t killed, and so this leaves the killer live and potentially a danger to those who employed him.
At this point, psychotic police detective Macedonio Ramirez (played with delectable believability by Jesus Ocha) gets his orders to bring in Gordo and exact a confession. Gordo confesses faster than you can say Abu Ghraib, and then Ramirez sets out to haul in two other men who were on the threshold of a shady real estate deal with Gordo. Since Ramirez and his masters needs scapegoats to ‘prove’ a conspiracy surrounding the assassination, these two men fit the bill. One of these two men is Antonio Santos (Bruno Bichir) who is married to British citizen Julie Miles (Lorraine Pilkington).
Julie finds out the hard way that it doesn’t matter if you are a British citizen when you are rotting away in a Mexican jail and no one has the slightest idea where you are….
According to some sources, Conejo en la Luna is touted as noir, but I would describe it as a thriller, and it’s a pretty good one at that. The film has a serious message, which is somehow not quite hammered home. Instead the film seeks the thriller aspects of the tale and abandons the more serious political aspects of the topic and its indictment of the Mexican justice system. While the film explores corruption in the corridors of power, as viewers we certainly absorb the idea that Julie, Antonio and everyone else caught in this cesspool of deceit are completely screwed, but nonetheless this doesn’t translate to the broader picture, so ultimately there’s the idea that there are just a few rogue individuals running amok. On another note, I have to add that I loved the scenes showing politico Nicolas Lopez (Alvaro Guerrero)–a man who drops his undies in almost every scene, and you know that this will be his ultimate downfall.