Magazine article Screen International

Lu's Dream

Magazine article Screen International

Lu's Dream

Article excerpt

Dir/scr: Hari Sama. Mexico. 2011. 106mins

In one scene in Lu's Dream (El Sueno de Lu), a member of a support group for mothers and fathers who have lost children notes that no language has a word for people like them: The pain is too overwhelming to describe or label. Given its technical and aesthetic complexity and high degree of mediation, cinema might seem incapable of capturing the unbearable, isolating, and shifting states of mind of a parent whose life is forever altered by this most unimaginable of losses.

Extremely moving and perfectly executed.

With meticulous observation and attention to detail, and an exceptional central performance, director Sama proves otherwise in this beautiful, heart-wrenching story of the up-and-down grieving process of a single mom in Mexico City whose five-year-old son had died suddenly one year before.

This extremely moving and perfectly executed production should cross over from its home turf to other Spanish-language markets, with a strong possibility of edging into non-Spanish-speaking territories, especially in Europe and North America. The topic is universal; the pacing strikes the right balance between unhurried phases in her transformation and variety of shots and set-ups to keep things moving. Festival engagements are a given. The film earned a special mention at the recent Morelia Film Festival, where it had its world premiere.

Lu (Pruneda) is a classical guitarist and singer who lives alone in Mexico City. When the movie opens, she is checking out of an institution following a suicide attempt. All the medication in the world can not pull her out of an autistic-like state of inertia. She has essentially ceased living: She sits around, sleeps constantly, stares out large windows at giant palms, and watches footage of her son (much of it imaginary), Sebastian, on the computer. At all times she clutches his teddy bear; she just can not let go.

Forget about practicing her art. Her not-quite-comprehending mother, Laura (Farias), worried about another try at self-harm, insists on staying with her, but Lu just wants to be left alone. The therapy sessions are a first step toward healing. The other participants (most from a real support group), all with sad but engaging stories, understand the ache she suffers. She begins to get outside herself, going outdoors, socializing with family (a few subplots enrich the narrative), and, ultimately, picking up her guitar. …

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