Opening 5 Feb 2015
A sell-out in cinemas in Mexico City for weeks after it opened, Guten Tag, Ramón tells the heartwarming story of a young man who refuses to give up on his dream. Though Ramón is only 18, he’s already tried and failed (five times!) to cross the border from Mexico into the United States. His most recent attempt nearly costs him his life. Back in the one-room house he shares with his mother and grandmother, he refuses to become a criminal, though Granny tries to persuade him to give the local gang a try. His friend Güero tells him about his auntie who emigrated to Germany, a mysterious place that none of the locals are particularly familiar with. This auntie seems to be doing fine, and she’s sending money back to Mexico: Güero is sure she’ll be able to get Ramón a job. Seeing this as his last chance to provide for his family, Ramón sells a parcel of land to local drug lords and makes his way by bus to Durango, then flies to Frankfurt and takes the train to Wiesbaden. With Güero’s instructions clutched tightly in his hand, he is met with respect by border officials and airline employees, some of whom even speak Spanish.
Ramón’s careful attention to Güero’s detailed instructions land him triumphantly on the doorstop of a fancy house by a river. When he rings the bell though, the irate homeowner chases him off. The auntie is no longer there, and Ramón can’t understand why. Mystified by the incomprehensible language, unprepared for the harsh climate, and carrying practically no money, Ramón makes do by sleeping on a bench in the train station. He befriends a young woman who sells groceries in a Tante-Emma-Laden and begins earning a few cents by carrying people’s purchases home. One day he meets Ruth, a friendly retiree, who takes Ramón under her wing. Before too long, his winning and persistent ways earn him a warm place to stay and some new elderly friends who treat him very kindly. Moving beyond language barriers and prejudices, the lonely elders develop an unusual bond with the cheerful young newcomer.
Unfortunately, Guten Tag, Ramón feels a bit too pat to be entirely convincing for a German or English-speaking audience. Though the story is timely and the message strong, the acting by the Germans – particularly veteran Ingeborg Schöner – feels forced. A reason to see the film is the convincing performance of 20-year-old Kristyan Ferrer as Ramón. Watch out for him – he’s certainly got a bright future. (Brenda Benthien)