I Dream in Another Language Movie Photo
Photo from the film I Dream In Another Language.

I DREAM IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE (Sueño en otro idioma)
Director: Ernesto Contreras
Written by: Carlos Contreras
Cast: Fernando Álvarez Rebeil, Eligio Meléndez, Manuel Poncelis, Fátima Molina
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 7/20/17
Opens: July 28, 2017

Latin is considered a dead language but compared to Zikril, the idiom of the Church would be almost a lingua franca. Not only do thousands of people speak Latin today, principally in the cathedrals, but only two people appear left in the world who know not only the language of Zikril but the fading culture of its people. The language has one chance of a revival: the two men who still speak it (along with their native Spanish) need to come together for interviews with a local radio station. The trouble is that the duo have not spoken for fifty years, and still resist even looking at each other. Martín (Fernando Álvarez Rebeil) takes on the task of peacemaker, much like the way Bill Clinton got the Palestinian leadership together with the Israeli Prime Minister to iron out a settlement that had evaded success for some fifty years.

“I Dream in Another Language” has elements of the fantastical along with the prosaic, with cinematographer Tonatiuh Martínez shaping the world of a remote Mexican village set inside a rain forest, the inhabitants probably traveling at best to a neighboring rural area with a trip to Mexico City considered a once-in-a-lifetime venture.

The fifty years’ feud between Don Evaristo (Eligio Meléndez) and Don Isauro (José Manuel Poncelis) arose from a romantic triangle in which young Evaristo (Juan Pablo de Santiago) and his best friend (Hoze Meléndez) are competing for the affections of one Maria (Nicolasa Ortíz Monasterio). Maria’s death has done nothing to repair the schism. Isauro never believed that she had no romantic feeling for him, and this was confirmed by Evaristo’s granddaughter (Fátima Molina). Lluvia’s relationship with Martín, the linguist, virtually parrots that of Maria’s with the two young men. In the present case, Lluvia’s grandfather, Evaristo, does what he can to sever the bond between the two young people.

If you’ve ever been to a rain forest (I recommend a trip to Costa Rica to sample some of the most authentic) you can imagine being surrounded by nature: the bird calls, the pounding precipitation, the mood of isolation in which human beings are dots of nature dwarfed by leafy vegetation and giant trees.

The director, Ernesto Contreras, is known for “Blue Eyelids” (a woman wins a vacation for two, and with no-one she knows is available she invites a stranger) and for a series of documentary shorts and TV episodes including one on El Chapo. With “I Dream in Another Language,” he focuses on two men of about the same age who themselves act like strangers who, deep down would like to be reconciled. The flashbacks that take us a half century into the past describe how the friendship of young men deteriorates, leading to a virtual lifetime of Isauro’s envy—edged out over the woman they both love. “I Dream in Another Language” may not encourage you to study Zikril, if that language really ever existed, but its lyricism, along with physical and verbal violence, may well enchant you.

Unrated. 101 minutes. © Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Comments, readers? Agree? Disagree? Why?

Story – B+
Acting – B+
Technical – A-
Overall – B

Movie Review Details
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I Dream In Another Language
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By Harvey Karten

Harvey Karten is the founder of the The New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) an organization composed of Internet film critics based in New York City. The group meets once a year, in December, for voting on its annual NYFCO Awards.

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