For his sophomore directorial effort, Gael García Bernal is staying true to his roots. Chicuarotes finds the Y tu mamá también and Amores perros star tapping into the very issues that first catapulted him to fame: the effect of Mexican society on his country’s youth. Set in San Gregorio Atlapulco, where the film’s title refers to both hot peppers from the region as well as stubborn and unruly kids, Chicuarotes follows two teenagers hoping to get away from their “pinche pueblo culero.” Their ticket out is a chance to buy into the electrician’s guild. But coming into that kind of cash is not gonna be easy for “El Cagalera” (Benny Emmanuel) and “El Moloteco” (Gabriel Carbajal), who panhandle doing clownish bits on the bus, offering painfully obvious puns (“Vas payasito?” “No, voy payasote!”) to an indifferent audience who all but ignores them.
That image of the these two self-proclaimed Cantinflas wannabes, with their smeared clown makeup and baggy attire is what opens the new trailer for the Cannes-premiering film. The fact that they look a bit like Heath Ledger’s Joker is enough of a clue, perhaps, to the kind of criminal life they take on in the film. “We’d rather make you smile than make you afraid,” they later claim, so by the time we see them pulling out a gun on an unsuspecting crowd on the bus, you realize those are the only choices they think are available to them. Gun in hand, and driven by desperation and a lack of options, these two young boys will have to find out how far they’ll go to get what they want.
Written by Augusto Mendoza (who also wrote Diego Luna’s Abel and Mr. Pig) and shot by Juan Pablo Ramírez (whose cinematography here makes a nice complement to his work on that other recent take on youthful crime, Huachicolero), Chicuarotes looks to both celebrate the festive and colorful culture of San Gregorio Atlapulco as well as diagnose what’s at the heart of Mexico’s contemporary violence. Take a look at the full trailer below and get a better glimpse of famed veterans Daniel Giménez Cacho and Dolores Heredia, who also form part of García Bernal’s ensemble.