Movie Review - La Granja (The Farm)
Many have compared this film to Alejandro González Iñárritu's Amores Perros. Iñárritu has certainly been accused of peddling despair and dishing out misery porn, but, despite Amores Perros being set in Mexico City, the film wasn't necessarily about Mexico City. Arguably, Soto's film is more specific. Where it's set matters. The geography is more a character. A particular bridge, for example, feels like a specific thing to this area that Soto wants to spotlight.
Soto delineates each story line by naming every one after a farm animal. The first is "La Gallina" or the hen, a mothering bird, and Soto's opening salvo centers on a woman who desperately wants to be a mother herself but she isn't for some reason. She instead works at a hospital's maternity ward, delivering babies. She reaches her limit when she sees a drug-addicted, pregnant woman nearly lose her and her baby's life due to a heroin overdose.
The second story is the aforementioned "El Gallo" or the rooster, which is a fighting bird. Soto's image of the ring where the roosters battle is almost reminiscent of the dog-fighting ring in Amores Perros. Unlike Amores Perros though, the fighting animals here are a metaphor for the true horror, which is prepubescent teens, possibly between 10 and 14, who engage in cock fights not dissimilar from the animal brawls we see in both films.
The third story is "La Mula" or the mule. It focuses on another, young boy, an overweight teen named Lucho who is quickly revealed to work for the same, ruthless kingpin involved in Santito's story. That plot is tangential here. What's more compelling is the subtle queer elements Soto infuses. Soto teases cross-dressing and same-sex attraction where Lucho's gaze seems more transfixed to the sometimes naked or half-naked, sexy young man named Bryan who Soto's camera certainly loves.
Those elements though are abandoned for an Amores Perros-like convergence that isn't as emotionally striking as the literal knockout revelation in "El Gallo" because you come to care more about Santito than you do Lucho, but it's still compelling in its own right.
Not Rated but contains graphic nudity and brutal violence against children.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 41 mins.
Playing at Laemmle Monica Film Center.
Available on DVD and VOD on June 20.