There’s something deeply American about quirky indie comedies, but what would, say, Little Miss Sunshine look like set in northern Mexico? Or a Wes Anderson film with a touch of Cantinflas? Well, director Anwar Safa has set out to answer that question with his sophomore feature El Jeremías, which shouts out all of the above while taking a deep interest in the cultural idiosyncrasies of the great Mexican north.
And somehow, the Torreón, Coahuila native managed to weave these influences into an Hermosillo-based family comedy that is both local, and wholly universal. The feature comedy chronicles the misadventures of an 8-year-old boy of humble origins who learns he has an exceptionally high IQ. While his bumbling father tries to find some way to profit off of his child’s gifts, Jeremías begins to look for his calling in life. But when a psychologist takes the young genius under his wing, Jeremías finds himself increasingly separated from what’s most important to him: his family.
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Oozing with visual style – with the symmetrical, widescreen cinematography we would expect from a film with such influences – El Jeremías is also noteworthy for its wholesome, family-friendly take on a genre that usually goes the way of dirty jokes and heavy sexual innuendo. It’s a quality that earned the film an Audience Award at last year’s Austin Film Festival and effusive praise from Mexican audiences relieved to see such a positive, optimistic national product. But whether or not it lives up to its lofty ambitions is up to you to decide.
El Jeremías opens in select theaters on October 21, 2016.