Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Luz Review: A Beautiful Film About Love and Life

Ernesto Reyes	...	Ruben Jesse Tayeh	Jesse Tayeh	...	Carlos Jimmy Garcia	Jimmy Garcia	...	Sal Alma Gloria Garcia	Alma Gloria Garcia	...	Benilda Lowell Deo	Lowell Deo	...	Officer Dowden Rega Lupo	Rega Lupo	...	Julio Marian Mendez	Marian Mendez	...	Valerie Evie Riojas	Evie Riojas	...	Adriana

Release date: March 19, 2021
Running time: 120 minutes
Directed by: Jon Garcia
Starring: Ernesto Reyes & Jesse Tayeh

Ruben Gonzales (Ernesto Reyes) is a young latino man who’s fallen into the world of the mafiosos. When an accident leads him into incarceration, his relationship with the cartel and with his family is strained. While in prison, he falls in the complex hierarchical system until his cellmate and eventual lover Carlos (Jesse Tayeh), comes to his side and helps him find emotional and financial stability. When the two me are released from prison 2 years apart, they again meet on the outside and while dealing with the circumstances that had them incarcerated in the first place, they ponder whether what they once had was real or just two people hoping to seek light in a dark place.

Willis Argetsinger	Willis Argetsinger	...	Adult in custody Virgil Bohnenkamp	Virgil Bohnenkamp	...	Adult in custody Lucas Burton	Lucas Burton	...	Yard Prison Guard Kristin Busch	Kristin Busch	...	Customer at Auto Body shop J.D. Caneals	J.D. Caneals	...	Adult in custody Isai Dale	Isai Dale	...	Property Guard Charles Gallardo	Charles Gallardo	...	Adult in custody Shawn M. Hall	Shawn M. Hall	...	Adult in custody John Hamilton	John Hamilton	...	Adult in custody Lloyd Hartzell	Lloyd Hartzell	...	Adult in custody Bruce Jennings	Bruce Jennings	...	Martin Geddy Johnson	Geddy Johnson	...	Adult in custody Alba Larsen	Alba Larsen	...	Marisa Jahi Moody	Jahi Moody	...	Adult in custody Eddie Passadore	Eddie Passadore	...	Priest Yolanda Porter	Yolanda Porter	...	Officer Martinez
Luz is a special film that breaks many molds.  It portrays a prison system that is breaks you down filled with differing, often conflicted factions; but it also shows some inmates that are willing to support and build you up.  It is a Latino film rooted in a culture of masculinity, but also shows two men coming to terms with their sexuality and being open about it.  And it is a film about surviving in the prison system and in life that is also delicately put together with beautiful shots and lovely music.  It is also refreshing to see a film about minorities in the prison system with a more positive message.  The prison that Ruben and Carlos are incarcerated in is a hierarchical system, so the pair do what they need to to survive.  But overall, you see a prison situation that shows more support and positivity than you normally experience in film. 

The film's story develops slowly and if you don't know much about what happens beforehand you will be in for a surprise and a treat.  The movie has several phases and builds as Ruben and Carlos become friends and then some.  It has nice camera work and a slow pace that let you get to know these characters before the real emotion in the film happens.  And I really liked seeing these initial prison scenes, and the way that Ruben is forced to adapt in a situation that he is clearly not prepared for.  You can tell that he is out of his element in many respects, and has to adapt quickly to make sure he survives.  

And although the film can be overdramatic at times, especially in the early sections, it still is such a treat to watch.  To see the interactions between Reyes and Tayeh, the unspoken aspects of their relationship, and the way it develops was such a pleasure to see.  And it is interesting to see this development in terms of Ruben's character becoming more comfortable and familiar with the prison system, and eventually with life outside.  As Ruben gets more experienced and confident in his situation, he also becomes more confident in who he is.  And Luz does not hold back in its depictions of Ruben and Carlos's relationship.  Their relationship is complicated, nuanced, and beautiful, and develops throughout the film.  And it is also refreshing to see support from those around them, which is a testament to this film and the more accepting nature of society today.

Luz breaks the mold and a lot of film conventions, portraying a complicated and beautiful Latino relationship with a slow burning story, supportive characters, and wonderful music.   

Watch it.

Dimitrius Pryce	...	Adult in custody Eduardo Reyes	Eduardo Reyes	...	Jamie Kenneth Allan Robertson	Kenneth Allan Robertson	...	Adult in custody Eric Schechter	Eric Schechter	...	Adult in custody Willard Waggoner	Willard Waggoner	...	Adult in custody Fredrick M. Wenger Jr.	Fredrick M. Wenger Jr.	...	Adult in custody Jason Wochaski	Jason Wochaski	...	Adult in custody       Directed by  Jon Garcia	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Jon Garcia
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Luz is available digitally and on demand on March 19, 2021. 

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