Los Caifanes (Juan Ibáñez, 1967): Mexico

Reviewed by Ellia Rodriguez. Viewed at AFI Fest 2017.

This is a film about an upper class couple, and their dangerous and exciting night out on the town. The female protagonist is Paloma, played by actor Julia Isabel, and her male counterpart is Jaime de Landa, played by Enrique Álvarez Félix. Paloma wants a night of adventure like never before and so the couple tags along with a few trouble makers. Within the film’s worldview there is a huge difference between the lower and upper class. This difference is discovered by Paloma and Enrique throughout the film.

I was able view this restored movie at this year’s AFI Fest. Thankfully it was subtitled, but I do understand Spanish. Sometimes there wasn’t a direct translation, but because I generally understand Spanish I understood what they were truly trying to get across. I find this is common with any language, because you can never get a perfect translation, but instead a general idea.

During this night out, along side Jaime and Paloma, we enter a variety show at a place called Demeris. The female protagonist acts as if she is one of the women working in the show. This a big change from just wanting to flirt with danger and gang members. We see that it is no big deal for Paloma to rub elbows with the lower class while she powders her nose in the ladies room.

There is definitely a worldview that is clearly focused on within this film. We see it through the eyes of both an upper class couple and members of the lower class. The climax of this issue comes out when Jaime is pushed to his limits of his time with the gang members. Jaime states how he has his name and his job to lose. He argues that the gang members don’t even reveal their real names, just nicknames such as Machete and Captain Cat. Throughout the movie we are given hints that theses gang members have all lost someone dear to them. We are given bits and pieces of scenes which are all eventually linked together. Such as when one of the guys plays and sings various versus, on a stolen guitar. During these song versus the cinematographer chose for each character to have a close up shot. We are then able to see the changes in their expressions while the singer brings up loss and the deaths of family members and past lovers.

The feeling of this movie reminds me of the film, “The Warriors”. Most of the movie is set at night, it also focuses on the lower classes of the world, and gang lifestyle.

In conclusion, we see that there are two classes that are most definitely worlds apart. The lower class is more carefree and has a lot to lose. Whereas the upper class members are stuffy and have status to lose. When there is not judgement on either side you can see a cultivation of  respect between both groups. This is especially prevalent during the interactions of Paloma and the gang members. Fundamentally, I believe the biggest point in the movie was that in the end we all died the same, no matter our class or station.



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