Inside Out 2017: Our Review of ‘I Dream in Another Language’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Inside Out 17, Movies by - May 27, 2017
Inside Out 2017: Our Review of ‘I Dream in Another Language’

Mexico’s Contreras brothers – that’s director Ernesto and writer Carlos – bring their award winning film I Dream in Another Language to the Inside Out fest. The Sundance winner has components of magic realism, a problematic sub genre but one I’m willing to give a pass.

Elderly Isauro (José Manuel Poncelis) and Jacinta (Monica Miguel) are two of three native speakers of Zikril. It’s a language that, by legend, humans can use to speak with animals. Martin (Fernando Álvarez Rebeil), a linguist eager to learn Zikril, arrives in town. His methodology involves studying how language works in conversation.

But Jacinta’s sudden death has Martin scrambling for a plan B. The only qualified candidate for Isauro’s only conversation partner is the cranky Evaristo (Eligio Meléndez). They haven’t spoken to each other in over half a century. And they react differently for having to preserve an ancient, endangered language.

As problematic as it is, the Contrerases depict Jacinta’s death with an otherworldly elegance. The Mexican village and jungle are inherently cinematic locations. But they also let us listen to the voices of the souls Jacinta joins. They remind us that cinema is equally sonic as it is visual.

These voices are like the past, coming like flashbacks to show young Isauro (Hoze Meléndez) and Evarsto (Juan Pablo de Santiago). The two become lovers, but they meet a young mestizo woman named Maria (Nicolasa Ortíz Monasterio). And Evaristo’s choice of Maria over ISaure set the two men apart.

Martin is a mestizo just like Maria. The latter a part of a wave to veer people like Evaristo from his native language. Ironically, Martin’s return is an attempt to correct the wrongs of the previous generation. Flaws aside, the Contreras still touch on topics like endangered languages that are inherently interesting to see in film.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you’re working.