What lies inside the Mexican borders?

January 22, 2023

Noise (Ruido) is a must-see despite its despondent aura

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“When you dream of the worst things happening. Horrible things. But… you never truly imagine the worst, until you get the news that your daughter has suddenly disappeared.”

A single lamp lights the room as fingers trace over the outline of her daughter. A face is buried in clothes from boxes that have been shuffled around and reopened.

The scene is followed by the protagonist standing in front of the local prosecutor’s office; its walls drowning in graffiti - a constant reminder of the missing women in Mexico, of the grieving families and the nonchalant behaviour of the state as human lives turn into mere numbers with each passing day.

“If the energy you all put into your phones went towards work, the history of this whole country would have turned out completely differently.”

Another set of fingers aimlessly taps at the keyboard, his mind on the vibrating phone, feeding in personal information about the victim, 25-year-old Ger, also known as Gertrudis Bravo Velázquez.

Patiently waiting parents, Arturo Bravo Díaz and former artist Julia Velázquez Noriega who came to see if the remnants were of their daughter, lose it when the ignorant clerk introduces them to the third prosecutor, Zamudio, in nine months who calmly announces that the identifying tattoo was not in the file.

An enraged Julia, played by JulietaEgurrola, heads to the support circle which consists of a small group of people entwined by the grief of a lost relative. A journalist, Abril, who works on cases involving missing people, also attends the circle.

Later that night, Julia, who has a new tattoo inked in a dull red across her left arm, a bold reminder of Ger, sits next to Ger’s father. A deafening silence envelops their exchange of pessimistic dialogues. A reminder of a missing member, who they sometimes wish was dead rather than in the hands of those who would torture, rape, kill, or mutilate them. This is the ground reality for some Mexicans even in 2023.

“Today, I was convinced this was going to be over. I wanted it to be her.”

A very strong-headed, brave Abril approaches Julia in a restaurant. Her daughter Emilia accompanies her as she offers her help to locate Ger. For her, it is more than a story. She rhetorically questions Julia “You know why?” saying it out loud for herself more than for Julia.

“Well precisely because I have a daughter. She’s the reason.”

The movie directed and co-written by, Natalia Beristáin, tugs at the emotions hitting too close to the dark realities of the real world that exists beyond the comfort of our screens.

Feeding the right people money, traversing through human trafficking routes, opening containers where the line between living and dead merges to nothing but plastic sheets and a mountain of unidentifiable human remains, the story is harrowing and gut-wrenching. A son, Pedro, worried for his mother, and a mother worried for her daughter, as Abril and Julia navigate through the falling boulders of a crippling society.

Julia and Abril follow leads that expose the corrupt and inept social welfare structure of their country, where even hope is just a far-fetched dream. They encounter families ripped of closure, their pleas falling on deaf ears, who join hands in locating their loved ones themselves without the proper resources, dressed in a hat, rubber gloves an added accessory and carrying a walking stick, when all doors shut on them.

The production is a must-see despite its despondent aura which plucks at the feelings of all eyes and ears meeting it. Julia’s constant dreams with military guns shooting in the background, a barren hillside, a voiceless depiction of the anguish and pain of a mother and amethyst-coloured smoke, signifying the purifying effects of suffering, blending the dream into a reality which continually appears throughout the film indicate the mental trauma the ones who remain behind have to suffer through. They gradually lose their identity as they struggle to hold onto the fading memories of those they have lost.

Across the country, feminists chant outside police and prosecutor’s offices, begging for protection from a government that is least bothered. All hell breaks loose on women as soon as the clock strikes midnight and the cameras shy away.

The movie, directed and co-written by Natalia Beristáin, tugs at the emotions hitting too close to the dark realities of the real world that exists beyond the comfort of our screens.

“The oppressive state is a macho rapist!”

More than a slogan, the movie isn’t just another story to be seen and swept under the rug but rather a portrayal of almost 90,000 missing people since the start of the Guerra contra el narcotráfico en México, Mexican drug war. 90,000 families reflected in Julia, Arturo and Pedro; the ones who follow the trails to a dead victim or to their own deaths and the ones who give up and live in a constant abyss of hope for the victims' survival, the pain of uncertainty and trust in a system that has failed them or the ones who are either sent away by families yearning for a safe future or are forced out of their homeland by the grim, black clouds that are swallowing it one human soul at a time.

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