Volume 80, Number 14 | September 2-8, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Koch on Film


“Daniel & Ana” (-)
The film’s script could have been taken from the notes of Havelock Ellis, a psychiatrist whose books dealt with sexual episodes experienced by his patients. When I was in high school so many years ago in Newark, New Jersey, his books were read by students looking for a sexual thrill. They were often read in the school library rather than being checked out. God forbid your teacher should find you reading one of them, or worse, your mother should find one of his books under your bed.

This story, which takes place in Mexico City, involves a very upper-class family with two teenaged children: Daniel (Dario Yazbek Bernal), who is 16 years old — and Ana (Marimar Vega), a year or two older than her brother. The siblings are very close and Daniel worries that Ana, who is engaged, will move to Spain after she marries because her fiancé has been offered a job there.

Daniel and Ana are kidnapped during a drive and taken blindfolded to a house. Instead of being held for ransom, they are forced to have sex with one another before a camera. The kidnappers want to make and sell a porno film, starring the siblings. 

The story is based on true incident in Mexico City. The event creates a horrific trauma that obsesses the teenagers long after they are released. What is unbelievable is that neither reports the crime to their parents or to the police. They simply suffer the trauma, which begins to destroy their lives.

The movie, directed by Michel Franco, has a totally clinical approach.  There is nothing salacious about it. The sexual scenes are never used to stir prurient interests.

I thought it would be sold out on opening night. Instead, there were about a dozen people in the Quad Theater, six of whom were speaking Spanish. I assume they went to see it especially because it was in their language. The mystery is how the public knew this unpublicized film was worth seeing. The theater itself was clean and attractive.

Henry Stern said: “The movie was not without merit, showing how really rich Mexicans live. The plot is bizarre. Why kidnap people when there are so many porn actors and fluffers looking for work? The silliest part was Daniel trying to cover his genitals. Why should he bother? There is no reason given for the siblings’ totally different reaction to the forced sex, so the picture did not make sense. The longhaired brother looked and sulked like a matinee idol. The sister looked ordinary, but was much more sensible — as women often are.”

In Spanish, with English Subtitles. Not Rated. Run time: One hour, thirty minutes. Playing through September 2, at Quad Cinema (34 W. 13th St.). For screening times, call 212-255-2243 or visit www.quadcinema.com.

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