Film: La Bienvenida

La Bienvenida: the most beautiful short film I’ve seen in years

La Bienvenida by Fernando Eimbcke is a beautiful short film about commitment, hope, and a refusal to be disappointed. It tells the story of a band in a small town in Mexico. They are learning a piece by Mozart to welcome an unnamed dignitary to their town. The film focuses on the sousaphone player, who is having some trouble mastering his part. We follow him on the long walk home from practice, watch him sit outside his small house in the moonlight, playing his part. Watch him walk to two stores looking for milk for his crying baby, then feeding the baby, then practicing in the moonlight again, and waking the next day, still in the chair outside his house, slumped over his instrument. Then walking to the town to take his place with the band under banners and streamers. It’s a hot day, there’s a long wait, there’s a pale donkey. And I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s delightful, delightful.

Everything about this film is beautiful to me. It glows like it was filmed on the moon: shifting shadows and glowing lights. A crocheted blanket over a window, a convenience store in the middle of nowhere, the pale donkey, the sousaphone itself, the warm, kind face of the sousaphone player: everything is beautiful. I see echoes of Fellini in the town scenes, echoes of Kurosawa in the landscapes, echoes of Jarmusch and Ozu in the rhythm, pace, and stillness of the movement. But it has a language and aesthetic all its own. So much is left unexplained, and the dialogue is barely existent, but you feel real love for the man and his baby, and the white haired woman rocking the baby. Visually it’s got a remarkable cool-warmth, and the story itself also glows with a generosity and honesty and quiet humor. Take ten minutes and watch this remarkable film. Yes I used the word “glow” too often, but I love things that glow, I love the word “glow” and this film GLOWS.

The short is part of a collection of shorts by Mexican directors called Revolucion, and all of them are worth watching. Fernando Eimbcke also directed Temporada de Patos(Duck Season), one of my favorite films ever.

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