Knowing that Alonso Ruizpalacios‘ Museo is based on a true story doesn’t make it any less unbelievable. It is Christmas Day in 1985. Juan Nuñez (Gael García Bernal) and Benjamín Wilson (Leonardo Ortizgris) have decided today is the day they’ll go ahead with their plan. Said plan involves breaking into Mexico City’s Museo Nacional de Antropología and stealing priceless artifacts from its world-renowned collection. Watching their two-man makeshift heist as well as the subsequent manhunt that occurs as Juan and Benjamín try to sell the many relics they stole would be enough to make Museo a thrilling film. But the Güeros director turns up the absurdity of the situation into a dark Coen brothers-like comedy. And on top of that, he makes issues of preservation and curation central to the boys’s story: theft and looting, after all, are at the heart of how museums have long built their own collections.
The movie premiered at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival where it won the Silver Bear award for Best Screenplay and easily made a play for the best Mexican production of the year so far. Shot with a close attention to period detail, Museo‘s authenticity is bolstered by the ability to film in never-been-shot-before locations. That includes the many scenes at the Museum where you get to see Gael and Leonardo walk around the world-class Mexico City institution, and carefully steal everything they can get their hands on. But with a voice-over that asks us to question everything we’re watching, news reels that remind us of the historical significance of the heist, as well as endless shots that echo and mirror artwork throughout the film, Ruizpalacios’s Museo is a thriller unlike any other.
As you can see in its first trailer, the film’s sensibility is hard to describe but impossible to miss. From William Tell-inspired Rubik’s cube set-pieces and oppressive Christmas family dinners to split-screen phone calls and actual news broadcasts from 1985, Museo immerses you in a story that’s so true to life it feels entirely unreal. Here’s an exclusive look at the trailer.
Museo opens in theaters in New York on September 14; in Washington, D.C., and South Florida on September 21; and in Los Angeles on September 28, 2018.