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by Rose Finlay

Lucía (Martha Reyes Arias) walks around a town in New Mexico with her two young sons, Max (Maximiliano Nájar Márquez) and Leo (Leonardo Nájar Márquez), looking for an apartment. After several unpromising offers, she settles on a bleak and filthy single-room without much furniture. While she goes off to work, the boys are tasked with staying inside the apartment and not leaving. They build a creative world for themselves, their drawings animated onto the walls, but soon enough even that pales in comparison to the potential that awaits them outside. It is a difficult life for a young, immigrant mother who has no support system, and it is even harder on the children who have no schooling and no freedom. They live for the promise that if they are good, then one day they will go to Disneyland.

LOS LOBOS is a slow, sensitive tale showing the stark reality that faces some of the most underprivileged of American society. Based on director and co-writer Samuel Kishi’s own childhood, the film manages to strike just the right blend of introspection and cultural criticism to make it a good choice for younger and old audiences alike. The bleak circumstances cause rifts in the relationship between Lucia, Max, and Leo, but despite the difficulties, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Yet the film reminds us in its final minutes that this tale of poverty and hardship is a surprisingly common story in the US, and not just limited to immigrants.