Reviews of Mexican Movies on DVD by Richard J. Brzostek

Susana (1951)

Director: Luis Bunuel;

Susana has a spellbinding quality that draws one into the film from the very beginning. It could be the picturesque Mexican settings or the music that matches the actions so well, but more than that, the story is exceptional. The story has enough drama and melodrama to compete with Greek classics. The story is also captivating because Susana is seemingly innocent and even meek, but in reality she is a crafty and a sinister woman. Her skill is employing temptation to manipulate others, however chaos also ensues from her work.

The story begins when Susana is trown into a cell in a reformatory (which looks like a prison). In a moment of fear, she pleads to God for a way out, which she soon finds. She excapes her imprisionment on that rainy and stormy night and finds her way onto a ranch. There, she plays coy at times and does all she can to make another fall for her the rest of the time. But she doesn't limit herself to one target - one of the chief ranch workers, the owner of the ranch and even the owner's son are all her targets.

Luis Bunuel had an amazing skill as a director and watching Susana will make one appreciate his talent. As we try to figure out what Susana will try next, while we wonder who she really is, it is hard not to be taken in by this story with timeless appeal. Although the plot is simple enough for everyone to appreciate, there is also symbolism and surrealism present, if one looks for them. Susana is a great film and one that I would recommend to all audiences.

The Brute (El Bruto) (1953)

Director: Luis Bunuel;

"El Bruto" is a drama filled with moral dilemmas and irony. The story starts with a wealthy man named Andrés (Andres Soler) and his much younger wife named Paloma (Katy Jurado) having the problem of having tenants not wanting to leave their apartment complex. They want to sell the land, but some of the tenants are quite fixed on the idea of not leaving. At his wife's suggestion, Andres gets the idea to ask Pedro (Pedro Armendariz) to help him out. Pedro is known as the Brute because he is big and is as strong as an ox, but he is a little dimwitted too.

Andres invites Pedro to live in his house, which complicates things as Peloma starts to secretly like Pedro. When Pedro intimidates one of the tenants with a strong punch, the Brute begins to have troubles. The old man he punched ends up dying a couple days later and the Brute has blood on his hands now. To further make matters worse, Pedro ends up meeting Meche (Rosa Arenas), the daughter of the man he killed, and likes her a lot. Pedro/Bruto isn't entirely dumb, as he is crafty enough to seduce this innocent girl. While the story may sound like a soap opera, it doesn't feel like one.

Throughout the story there is an underlining feeling of seduction. Between Peloma trying to seduce Pedro and Pedro trying to seduce Meche, there is a lot of tension. Although much of the action takes place off camera, we know that there is quite a bit going on between them.

Luis Bunuel's "El Bruto" looks beautiful in black and white, with great music that perfectly matches it. The story is quite interesting as it shows the strange justice karma brings with past actions affecting the future events. The story isn't at all romantic in the sense of everything coming together with a happy ending, but rather a string of tragedies that take us deeper into a mess that seems trickier to unentangle with the passage of time.

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