Opening 2 Jun 2011
A father repairs watches to support his poor family in Mexico City. Their meager home is full of ticking clocks. Suddenly, the father dies on the street; mother Patricia and her three teenaged children, Alfredo (Francisco Barreiro), Julián (Alan Chávez) and Sabina (Paulina Gaitán) are desperate without money and, therefore, food. Although typical of poor families everywhere, they are unique in their diet: they eat human beings; they are cannibals. They argue about solutions to the starvation dilemma; Alfredo and Julián make some unprofessional attempts to bring in the meat. One victim is a prostitute, and Patricia won’t eat prostitutes. Alfredo brings a young man whom he has met in a gay bar, but the family doesn’t eat homosexuals, either. In the meantime the police become involved after an autopsy of the father’s stomach brings forth a human finger with red nail polish. Two policemen imagine a potential high-media case which will further their careers. They close in on the family; there is a struggle and only one person survives to carry on the family line.
Perhaps this can be filed away as another vampire film, except that Mexican director Jorge Michel Grau wishes his film to be a social criticism of “the fate of social outcasts in a metropolis.” These people are as normal as anyone else, with slight discrepancies, so why can their needs not be fulfilled, or at least respected? The acting is impressive, especially Paulina Gaitán who seems to be the only really mature family member. In real life, actor Alan Chávez died, only 18 years old, in a police shoot-out shortly after the film was finished. Somos lo que Hay showed at the 2010 Cannes film festival as well as five other festivals where it has won, among other prizes, best first feature film. (Becky Tan)