Garcia Girls—Worth the Wait

Some movies hang around too long in the can (three years in this case) and then pop up when you least expect it. That’s too bad in the case of How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer, a movie that deserved better. With luck, it will last long enough to pick up a decent’s Richard von Busack caught up with the movie and filed this report:

How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer

(R; 128 min.) This is almost a great movie, with a trio of actresses giving brave, first-class work. Director Georgina Garcia Riedel is willing to let the rhythms of a baking summer dictate the pace. It all takes place in one sunburnt small town that could be anywhere in Aztlan (the locations are Yuma and Somerton, Ariz.). An aged grandmother (Lucy Gallardo, of Buñue’ls The Exterminating Angel) wakes up one morning and decides to purchase a car, much to the disgust of her daughter Lolita (Elizabeth Pena), an embittered divorcee who runs the family meat market. Meanwhile, Lolita’s daughter, Blanca (America Ferrera, never better), deals with the problem of the local boys. As the Hernandez brothers said of their fictional Palomar, this town is a place where men are men and the women have to have a sense of humor. The medium-length camera work and long takes give an avant-garde frame to the story unfolding here. The length of this 2005 release, finally getting theatrical distribution, is a problem—in a way, it could have been longer in order to follow all the threads it lays out, always a problem with a movie with three main characters. There are a few playwrightlike moments of monologue. But Riedel also thinks visually: I liked the  rhapsodic trip through the local landscape with two novice lovers talking in voice-over; a cloud of dust at night illuminated by red tail lights, or a jump-cut sequence of a girl’s underwear being tossed into a laundry hamper to mark time, like the pages falling off a calendar in an old movie. And there is a parody of Mexican soap operas that is nigh-priceless. It does have the chronic problem of the chick flick: the men are either dogs or nonthreatening, but if male audiences buck up and take that in stride, they will get access to a world usually barred to them by gender. Recommended. (RvB) 

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