Some might think you need a wild imagination to come up with the types of twisted, sordid tales spun by film legends like Mexico’s Arturo Ripstein, but as Ripstein himself shows us with his latest film, La calle de la amargura (Bleak Street), all you really need is a Mexican newspaper. Anyone who’s had the pleasure of leafing through a tabloid south of the border is undoubtedly familiar with the infamous Nota Roja, which documents unbelievable stories of violent crime, accidents, and natural disasters in sensationalist detail.
Take for example this possible headline: ‘Two diminutive luchadores found murdered by aging prostitutes in red light district hotel.” Sounds like something out of a hopelessly un-PC 70s B-movie, but this actually happened in Mexico City back in 2009, where so-called “midget wrestling” has not yet fallen out of favor as it has in the U.S. The far-fetched story quickly generated a media frenzy throughout Mexico, and Ripstein apparently found his next screenplay essentially written for him.
But contrary to expectation, the plot of La calle de la amargura does not focus on the miniature masked warriors who met their tragic fate that night, but rather on the two older prostitutes who drugged them in an attempted robbery gone horribly awry. Shot in evocative black and white, the trailer suggests a bizarro version of Raging Bull set in a debauched carnival universe, with some unmistakable Ripstein touches. Very little in the way of plot is given away, but we can be pretty sure the whole thing plays like an unsettling fever dream.
La calle de la amargura premiered earlier this year at the Toronto Film Festival before becoming available for Mexican audiences as part of the Filminlatino streaming platform. No details about a U.S. release are currently available, but definitely keep your eyes peeled for this one.