Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pixote Lite: "Sin Destino" (2002)

This Mexican film treads familiar ground as it shows us what a street kid will do to survive in the big bad city.

Francisco (Francisco Rey) is a not-too-bright homeless teen who owes drug money to his best friend, and dealer, David (David Valdez). Francisco is quite the troubled teen, having nightmarish flashbacks to being nine years old, photographed and molested by a creepy old man named Sebastian (Roberto Cobo).

David tries to get Francisco to stop trading gay sex for drugs, and sets him up with prostitute Perla (Sylvia Vilchis). Francisco reluctantly sleeps with her, and freaks out. He is practicing for his ideal love, Angelica (Mariana Gaja). David decides to give Francisco a drug to make Angelica horny, and Francisco finds himself at Sebastian's mercy again, trying to raise money for the drug. This time around, Francisco's encounter with Sebastian is far more harrowing.

Despite a very good acting job by the cast, "Sin Destino" left me cold. The gritty grimy sleazy world of violent street youth has been done to death, from the classic "Pixote" to the heartbreaking "Streetwise" to the lousy "Havoc," with many other examples in between.

Writer/director Laborde simply gave me no reason to care about the cast and their predicament. While it is sad that Francisco was snatched off the streets as a child, background about his character is lacking. I wanted to know how he got there, and what happened to his parents. What was David's story? The very unsatisfying ending added to my frustration.

On the other hand, like "Pixote," the inexperienced cast, and the late veteran Cobo, is brilliant. The film is shot in appropriately grainy black and white, with Francisco's dreams and hallucinations shot in appropriately grainy color. The film is low budget, looks low budget, and its authentic impoverished Mexican locations work.

"Sin Destino" has the look and film festival pedigree of a work that should not be ignored. The problem is we are bombarded with the same message movies year after year, and this film brings nothing new to the table. (* * *) out of five stars.