If your father is a universally-lauded Oscar-winning director, it might be best to steer clear of filmmaking. Maybe you could be a writer, or even a musician, but chances are that in the film biz you’ll never quite escape from papi’s lingering legacy. But Jonás Cuarón, the 34-year-old son of Gravity director Alfonso Cuarón, has apparently chosen to take on the challenge and make his own way in the unforgiving world of global cinema.
You may recall that Jonás first turned heads back in 2007 with his experimental feature Año uña, which won a Special Artistic Achievement Award at the Thessaloniki Film Festival, before he went on to co-write Gravity with his father, who is known for making his productions family affairs. Now it seems Cuaroncito is finally ready for the megaplexes with his English-language feature Desierto, which stars Gael García Bernal and Jeffrey Dean Morgan of Grey’s Anatomy fame.
Inspired by a trip Jonás took to the Southwest United States, Desierto adopts a spare, obstacle-oriented plot to tell the story of a group of Latino immigrants hunted through the open desert by a murderous American vigilante. The cat-and-mouse game reaches a breaking point as the immigrants fall to the vigilante’s sniper shot and insanely muscular huntin’ dog, leaving only GGB, a young girl, and a creepy bear doll. Not much else really seems to happen, but Cuarón seems confident that he can get across big themes with a simple, tense, action-oriented plot.
The trailer shows off a visual style that revels in widescreen desert landscapes before closing in claustrophobically on the besieged immigrants, suggesting that at some point the hunted may also become the hunters. Overall, it’s like Cuarón took all the tensest scenes out of No Country for Old Men, extended them over 94 minutes, and threw in some pretty loaded social criticism. Desierto picked up a FIPRESCI Award for Special Presentations at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival and will be making its way to U.S. theaters in March of 2016.