Expired April 12, 2021 7:00 AM
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Shot on location in rural Guanajuato, this oblique chronicle of violence in Northern Mexico elides the usual suspects to focus on the toll of the trauma on the victims’ next of kin. Having not heard from her teenage son Jesús (Juan Jesús Varela) in the two months since he left for Arizona, Magdalena (a riveting Mercedes Hernández) sets out to find him. Armed only with a photograph, memories, and dreams of her boy, Magdalena’s search takes her through police stations, bus stations, makeshift morgues, and migrant shelters to abandoned villages in a depopulated countryside. Claudia Becerril’s widescreen cinematography effectively shifts between shallow focus and occluded framing, suggesting the danger of looking, and pastoral vistas transformed into a landscape of fear; Clarice Jensen’s haunting compositions complement the precise naturalism of the sound design allowing space for ominous quiet. An elegantly constructed anti-macho western, Identifying Features offers neither revenge nor redemption, just the dogged pursuit of the terrible truth.

—Kate MacKay

  • Year
  • Runtime
    94 minutes
  • Language
  • Country
    Mexico, Spain
  • Director
    Fernanda Valadez
  • Screenwriter
    Fernanda Valadez, Astrid Rondero
  • Cast
    Mercedes Hernández, David Illescas, Juan Jesús Varela, Ana Laura Rodríguez
  • Cinematographer
    Claudia Becerril