Friday, October 23, 2020

AFI Fest Spotlight: I Carry You with Me

I’m delighted to be covering a number of selections from AFI Fest 2020. The festival runs October 15th-22nd, 2020, and films are available to watch online during that time.

I Carry You with Me
Directed by Heidi Ewing
Festival Information

New opportunities rarely come without drawbacks. A promotion at a job may come with a higher salary but also usually involves more hours and more responsibility for others’ actions and mistakes. Those who seek a better life with the promise of opportunity often have to work very hard to achieve that, and it may not always be rewarding. There are many who make sacrifices to provide for their families and to build towards giving them what they perceive to be a better place to start, even if that life may be missing some of the defining elements that made them who they are.

In the 1990s, Iván (Armando Espitia) lives in Puebla, Mexico, where he works in a restaurant and tries to support his family. He meets Gerardo (Christian Vazquez) and feels a passionate connection, one rooted in secrecy because of the way the two of them have had to live their lives up to that point. The identity he keeps secret from those around him and the one that recognizes the man he loves threaten to intersect, forcing him to make a choice. Iván decides he must find a way to get across the border to create a life in America, and what he has built two decades later is portrayed at the start of and throughout the film as he recalls all that got him there.

There are many flaws of the American dream and all it offers for those who work tirelessly to attain it. This film is more about love and the lengths people will go to for those who may their lives meaningful, even if, contradictorily, it results in them getting to spend less time together. Iván knows that he cannot be with Gerardo regardless of the strength of his feelings, and he wants nothing more than to be reunited with his son, who is not with him in America. Because he crosses the border illegally, Iván does not have the ability to return home unless he wants the move to be permanent, undoing everything that he has building in the name of family.

This is a strong and poignant story anchored by a powerful performance from Espitia, who makes Iván an understated protagonist, someone who speaks unassumingly and always demonstrates a positive attitude regardless of the difficulty of his choices and actions. Seeing Iván years later riding the subway and imagining the time he spent with Gerardo is deeply affecting, and this film has a wonderful and effectively conveyed sense of nostalgia that, driven by those memories, is carried by Iván over the years, representative of so many stories of separation in many forms.


No comments: