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GENRE: Drama (Spanish & English, w/ subtitles)
ROARS: 5 Out of 5

Rated: NR / Run Time: 1 Hour 20 Min.

CAST: Sebastian Villada Lopez, Laura Montana Cortez, Anthony Chisholm, Sarita Choudhury, Paola Mendoza

DIRECTOR(S): Gloria La Morte and Paola Mendoza

If there’s something about the independent film scene is that it embarks on topics or issues which are usually overlooked by the common Joe/Jane. At times I can understand the subtly of “keeping-it-real,” but under no circumstances should we visually dust ourselves off with what we see, because truth is as much as our arrogance may lead to a feeling of “not me,” truth is, none of us can foresee our futures. Bumps and bruises are inevitable, and with a straight forward film like Entre Nos / (Between Us), the next time you encounter someone or something which mirrors and based on what Co-Writer, Co-Director and lead actress (Paola Mendoza) experienced during her grimy childhood, it’ll make you think twice.

Seeking the American dream by having migrated from her native land of Bogota, Colombia, Entre Nos tells a simple tale of Mariana (Mendoza), a mother deserted by her shit-head husband in New York, who must somehow stretch out a living for herself and two small children, Gabriel (Sebastian Villada) and Andrea (Laura Montana). She becomes one of the city’s army of disenfranchised, making a park bench home on the nights when she cannot afford a stink-infested room for shelter. With $50 left to her name, she tries to sell her homemade empanadas on the street with little success. She collects bottles and cans for the change they bring in and, after this, you may never look the same way at people you see doing this on a daily basis. (Unless you’re a heartless prick of course.) Without ever getting too mushy, the film is an indictment of this incredibly wealthy country’s indifference to the less fortunate. Bradford Young’s cinematography, for all the grim subject matter, is surprisingly cheery, presenting a sunny urban environment in which the metaphoric hint of hope seems to still somehow lurk around the corner.

All of the performances are quite good. None of that over-theatrical-acting we tend to see at times, or less-than-zero (cheap plug for a GOOD film) medicore acting which leads one to believe they’re stuck in a bad scene between WWE wrestlers. Mendoza presents a straightforward portrait of a woman and single mother merely doing what she has to and who takes “Never complain, never explain” as her untiring motto. Her children are enacted by two little performers who are early pioneers of naturalism who, with innocence, can maintain a brave face even when confronted by dire situations. Isabel Sung is also adorably real as a little Korean girl who befriends Gabriel (and gets him into a heap of trouble).

In the midst of realism, this film doesn’t miss a beat. Exposing what millions of other single mothers, dads, and generally those who didn’t quite land on their feet… it’s human nature to take it to the limit when survival calls for it. Once dealt, how life’s hand works out for YOU depends of course on how YOU play the game. This story doesn’t provide “Iron Man” to come and save the day, or that one-in-a-billion chance of luck where the less fortunate is eyed by the more fortuante, create a bond and goes off on a Disney-like lifestyle where it’s happily ever after.

Overall, it’s an interesting little film with big exposure.

Opens on limited release Fri, May 14 in NYC (Manhattan and Queens) — Other cities check your local listings.

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