By Liz Lopez
I strongly believe in supporting independent films and appreciate the efforts by writers/directors who work at creating a debut feature film. I especially seek to support the artistic efforts of writers who have a story to tell, but not when the story continues to feature Latinos as thieves, drug dealers, drug users, smugglers and other sordid characters involved in crime. I understand it is reality in the lives of some individuals, but it is used as a story line too often and frequently, it is a very predictable film.
I viewed Road to Juarez, in an effort to show support for this debut feature written and directed by David Ponce de Leon, even though I was aware of the subject matter. Overall, I like the actor’s performances, although there are some very melodramatic scenes that play out more like a television novella. It is too predictable in fact and it did not hold my interest. It is not a good sign when three people come out of the theater, stand in the lobby and ask each other questions in order to make sense of some of the scenes. Road to Juarez has some good intentions, and it may appeal to some audiences, but I am sorry it missed the mark with me.
The film features two best friends, Jacob Saenz (Walter Perez) and Rob Hermann (Charlie Koontz) as they grow up pulling off petty crimes and later as adults, they get involved in high dollar crimes with Doug Hermann (William Forsythe), Rob’s uncle. It is unfortunate, but the elder relative is not a role model by any means. In fact, he leads them into a world they come to believe is easy and fast money. It never is and they will be lucky to come out of it alive. Despite initial doubts, they go through with the plans they are offered and of course, once in Mexico things do not go as proposed when they are on U.S. soil. I will not give away who the last man standing is – or for how long they remain standing, no matter how much money they “earn.”
Actor Adal Ramones is known internationally (Mexico and the U. S.) for his twelve years of television comedic work in “Otro Rollo” and had a role in the Spanish language film Saving Private Perez (2011) that had a theatrical release in the U. S. A. Ramones has a very dramatic role in Road to Juarez as he portrays the super vicious, gun – toting and hot headed Ivan, who is ready to reclaim what is to be returned from his underworld boss. His is the most impressive of all the performances. Forsythe’s acting seemed a bit too stiff in some of the scenes. Jacob and Rob’s long term friendship at times did not seem as close as I would have thought it to be in real life, and this I attribute to the scenes the actors are working with.
The film’s music is too loud it overpowers several scenes. I love music and it appeals to me in films, but Road to Juarez can bring down the music a notch, for sure.
I wish the best for this film and maybe it will find the audience once it receives rental distribution. Currently, the film is in two theaters in Austin and Houston, as well as in California. Check your local listings for more about this film or updates on the theaters at www.roadtojuarez-movie.com