The Wall of Mexico Review – Intriguing, Mysterious, Captivating (Director Statements)

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The Wall of Mexico, from Dark Star Pictures, presents a uniquely unusual film that takes the viewer into the land of Mexico into the glamour and allure of lifestyles, of the clash of prejudice, intellect, and citizenship.

Directed by Zachary Cotler and Magdalena Zyzak, The Wall of Mexico features an all-star cast, including Esai Morales, Mariel Hemingway, Xander Berkeley, Jackson Rathbone, Marisol Sacramento, Carmela Zumbado, Alex Meneses, and Moises Arias.


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The film begins at the home of Henry Arista, played by Easi Morales and Monica Arista, played by Alex Meneses. His daughters, Ximena, played by Carmela Zumbado, and Tania, played by Marisol Sacramento, are having a wild, unrestrained, drug fueled, sex party.

The Arista's own a villa just across the border in Mexico. They employee U.S. workers to manage the property, landscape the yards, and maintain the upkeep. They also export their water. As the film progresses, we find, the water has what everyone believes is medicinal qualities.

To help with the property and its upkeep, Henry hires a ranch hand, Don, played by Jackson Rathbone, to work alongside Michael, played by Xander Berkeley.

The source of The Aristas' wealth is a mystery to Don. Living in nearby Winfield, he soon learns tensions are high between them and the poor white townspeople, and that this has something to do with The Aristas' well, which Don is asked to guard at night, and is believed to a modern fountain of youth.

The film progresses over a period of six months. Throughout this time it showcases the daughters outrageously decadent behaviors, their ability to compartmentalize so that when they want to toy with the help they do so with such skill that poor Don, has no idea the web he has stepped into. The girls, of course, are master manipulators, with Ximena of high intellect and Tania more creative.


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Don becomes infatuated Tania, who only allows him entry if he can snort four lines of coke. As he is the help, he never has any power, and to avoid being cast out he does what she asks. And like the rest of her toys she eventually tires of him also.

As the water level drops, possibly from theft, the situation comes to a boil, and The Aristas decide to build a massive wall to keep the thieves from taking any more from them.

The Wall of Mexico is well made, with a unique cast of characters and draws the audience slowly into the mystery. 

The film is essentially two films, a literal cinematic presentation and a figurative analogy. Figuratively, the film is an analogy of the vast border wall as the viewers see throughout the final frames of the film. And there is no mistaking the water, which is sold and procures the family a lavish lifestyle, can be viewed as the drug of choice.

The ensemble cast deliver believable performances. The directors capture the essence of the idle life of the rich, young, bored, and pampered.  As well as a hidden belief that theft from the wealthy is allowed, as they will never miss it anyway. The film also highlights the prejudices, anger, frustrations of differences.

The Wall of Mexico is entertaining, intriguing, and slowly, step by step, pulls the viewer into the mystery.


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From the Directors:

Director Magdalena Zyak, "The Wall of Mexico was conceived in reaction to the 2016 election and the continuing turmoil of its consequences.    In our film, the clichéd power structures of American pop culture and news are flipped: a white handyman, uneducated and poor, tries to partake of the privileged and enticing world of a wealthy Latino family.  To further complicate preconceived notions about ethnicity and culture, we decided to shoot the film on the other side of the looking glass and teamed up with producers and crew from Tijuana.  Our American film, which takes place in the USA, was made, like so many American things, in Mexico.   On our first day of production we shot on Tijuana's beach.  A single rusty "fence," patched up with chain linked mesh, embellished with initialed hearts scratched by teenagers and names of Mexican illegal aliens who died fighting for the American armed forces, separates the two countries.  On the Mexican side, adults stroll, children play.  On the American side, there are a few abandoned traffic cones, a watch tower, an occasional helicopter.  At dusk, a border patrol car stands for hours silently flashing lights.  This beach exists as a real-life metaphor for a concept we scrutinize in our film: the symbolic intensity of borders, how they impinge on reality, creating endless ironies, tawdry, dangerous and sometimes poetic.   Above all, The Wall of Mexico aims to sway from the political/topical to the personal/psychological, examining human hierarchies with all their necessary and unnecessary exclusions and inclusions."


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Director Zachary Cotler adds, "The Wall of Mexico is an allegory.  Perhaps all works of art are allegorical, some more deliberately than others.  When a situation is too complex to be satisfactorily analyzed via standard methods (political science, cultural criticism, psychology), the social utility of art is at its highest.  One can, lacking anything more precise, create an allegory as a sort of loose net to throw over the situation. 
 
The Wall of Mexico opens in virtual cinema September 18, 2020 and VOD on October 13, 2020.

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