El Callejón de los milagros (Midaq Alley)

Title: El Callejón de los milagros (Midaq Alley)
Director:Jorge Fons
Actors: Ernesto Gómez Cruz and Salma Hayek
Year of Release: 1994
Awards: The most awarded film from Mexico (49 awards). Awards include eleven “Ariel Award” (Highest honour for Mexican Film Industry),Berlin Film Festival(Special Mention for the exceptional narrative quality), Chicago International Film Festival(Audience Choice Award)and loads of others

This Mexican movie released in 1994, has stood the test of time and is still the most awarded movie in the history of Mexico film industry. Based on Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz’s novel “Midaq Alley”, this film is about three characters and how their lives are intertwined with each other. The director uses a non-linear style of narration where we are told about lives of each of the characters and how they come to a common point where each character is intertwined with the other.

Plot: The story opens with the story about

Rutilio….
A scene of a bar owned by Rutilio(Ernesto Gomez Cruz) in a not so posh part of Mexcio City in 1990′s. A group of friends of Rutilio chatting over a round of drinks…then two other characters Chava, son of Rutilio and Abel his friend are introduced. They are planning to escape to US for a better living. Seeing his son not working in the bar, his father gets frustrated and shouts at him. This angers his son and he walks out. A good opening to the story where we get to see how strained the relationship of Father and son is….then after sometime Rutilio goes home and finds out that his wife has prepared his favourite dish, got him a gift and even tries to seduce him in bed…but Rutilio is least interested. Out of frustration he asks her why she is behaving like that, she reminds him quite angrily that it’s their wedding anniversary. The next day, Rutilio while walking on the road, meets a young man in a cloth store and they kind of become friends. After that he keeps giving him gifts and even asks him to come over to his bar….By this time, Chava and some of Rutilio’s friends start thinking that they are having a relationship and one day upon finding out that his father and the young guy are in a public bath in some place, out of anger Chava bangs the young guy’s head to a wall which makes him unconscious. This makes Chava fear for his life and he pleads Abel (who’s with his lady love Alma at this moment) to come away with him to US that very instant. Then Rutilio upon coming back comes to know through his wife that Chava and Abel have left and he cries out of
remorse for having lost his son.

Alma (Played by Salma Hayek)
She’s perhaps the perfect blend of innocence and beauty in the neighbourhood. And everyone around has head over heals about this girl. Abel is deeply in love with her and she knows that too, but upon the insistence of her mother she avoids him initially. But Abel somehow manages to convey his feelings for her and gifts her a beautiful necklace. On one of the outings with her friend, she comes to know about how her friend makes money by sleeping with other men. At this instant Alma meets a man who tries to woo her. After somedays, Alma meets Abel on the terrace and they both have a drag of pot; on that high she tries to make out with Abel who on the right moment is disturbed by Chava. He comes back to Alma and tells her that he has to leave with Chava and promises her that he would come back for her. After sometime, Fidel, a friend of Rutilio being a rich man makes advances on Alma and gifts her a necklace later. We also come to know that Alma’s mother is interested in Fidel, but upon seeing him interested in Alma, she controls her feelings and encourages Alma to go out with him. Despite her love for Abel, she reluctantly agrees to marry Fidel, but just days before their marriage, Fidel dies of a stroke. On the funeral day, Alma again comes across the same guy who once tried to woo her. They become close to each other and within sometime he asks her to come over to his place. In between all this, Alma receives phone calls and letters from Abel. Torn between her love for Abel and the beautiful life which her new friend promises her, she chooses the latter despite her mother’s repeated protests to not go out with her new friend. Alma finds out that her new friends runs a whorehouse and she retaliates!…But ultimately she gives up and eventually becomes a prostitute.

Susanita…
She is the landlord of the place where Alma and Abel live. A very compassionate woman, she’s quite worried about how she looks and whom she’s gonna marry. Everytime she comes to ask for rent from Alma’s mother, the latter tricks her to get a counseling of Tarot cards to predict the future instead of the rent. Susanita later confides that the man in her dreams looks a bit like Chava. One fine day, Chava barges into her house and pleads for some money and promises that he would return the same as soon as possible. She gives him the amount and in turn he kisses her. She’s quite overwhelmed by this gesture and hopes he would come back one day. But later one day she meets the guy working in Rutilio’s bar and she falls in love with him; but the guy takes interest in her for her money. She even gets her teeth replaced for him and they get married.

Then one fine day, Chava and Abel come back to Mexico. Chava is married and has a son and despite his father’s initial unacceptance, out of love for their grandson they finally accept them to their house. But Abel isn’t able to find out where Alma is; later Chava tells him that she’s become a prostitute. Susanita is pissed off with her husband because the latter steals her money everytime and throws him out of her house. Chava goes to meet Alma and they have a converstaion which is interrupted by the head of the whorehouse. The next day Abel tries to kill him, but in the brawl, he gets killed and Alma is devastated on seeing that. She begs everyone to let her go and take care of Abel…but while she struggles to get a cab to the doctor, Abel passes away.

A gamut of action, emotions, love, drama; the film has got it all with a awesome blend of brilliant acting. Salma Hayek looks stunning in the movie…you can just watch the whole movie for her!!….The style of narration and the screenplay are the standing out features and also the careful portrayal of each character in the movie is worth mentioning. All kudos to the director for extracting great acting from his cast…this perhaps can be a best introduction to the Mexican film industry for everyone who isn’t aware of the Mexico’s Production.

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Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia

A preview of the movie….

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