Just when it seemed like the era of little kids with guns in Latin American cinema was waning, first-time Colombian director Carlos Zapata has brought us yet another narrative of an innocent child caught up in the dynamics of violence, hypersexuality, and drug use that are apparently the inescapable consequences of poverty in Latin America. Yeah, sort of like City of God. This time, however, the film in question is driven along by some dope hip hop beats provided by Colombia’s own Crack Family Gz.
Las tetas de mi madre follows a young boy named Martín who has the predictably innocent dream of taking his mother to Disneyland, and works thanklessly as a pizza delivery boy in pursuit of his goal. One day a co-worker takes him to a strip club/brothel, where he has his first close up view of the female bosom. Tempted to return several days later, his snooping leads him to a room where he finds his own mother engaging in the world’s oldest profession. This all apparently takes place in an environment full of drugs, guns, gang violence, piles of garbage, homelessness, and rap music.
The film’s trailer suggests this is all very well photographed and decently acted, with softly lit, wide-angle exteriors that do a good job using Bogotá’s grey skies to expressive effect. The young actor Billy Heins has his starring debut as Martín after a supporting turn in 2012’s El resquicio (The Crack), and his face is just about as cute and innocent as his name. Despite the film’s glossy packaging, we are also treated to all of the somewhat clichéd images we might expect from this type of film, including Martín pointing a revolver toward a mirror, Martín lighting a crackpipe for his mother, wads of money, flipped tables, flipped food trays, and of course, plenty of tetas.
Will Las tetas de mi madre actually bring anything new to a genre that already culminated over a decade ago in Fernando Meirelles’ favela classic? Probably not, but that’s for you to decide.