EL JEREMÍAS || 2015, Mexico || Comedy || Directed by – Anwar Safa / Written by – Ana Sofia Clerici / Produced by – Mariano Carranco, Tita Lombardo, Monica Lozano, Alejandro Safa, Anwar Safa / Music by – Camilo Froideval / Cinematography – Marc Bellver / Editing by – Francisco X. Rivera / Production design – Barbara Enriquez / Starring – Martin Castro, Karen Romo / Running time: 95 mins.
Some people are born geniuses and never scientifically discover their own abilities. But is that a good thing or a bad thing? In the case of Jeremy, and eight-year-old boy with a beautiful mind, it possibly casues him to split further away from his own parents, who are far from being as bright as he is. Yet, even a kid who quotes Schopenhauer and has pictures of Albert Einstein and Marie Curie hanging on his bedroom wall, is just a kid. Thus, what remains central in El Jeremías, Anwar Safa’s sweet, charming, funny and perfectly balanced coming of age comedy drama, his near flawless directorial debut, is the very universal message of self-acceptance and acceptance of others for who they are. It is also about finding a path of self-discovery. Thus, the storyline in this film is truly about a kid trying to find out what he wants to be when he grows up, and this is something that everyone can identify with.
Even though El Jeremías is set in a small Mexican town, the setting only makes things more interesting and slightly exotic for an international audience. In a more general way, the film thrives on very familiar feelings, and is a tribute to childhood, with a hint of nostalgia for its innocence. The cinematography carries this aspect of the film across with its composure, and the symmetrical nature of the mise-en-scene echoes the works of Wes Anderson, another filmmaker who has been known to play with perception of childhood. This approach is beneficial to Jeremy’s deadpan comedy appeal.
But the film would have fallen apart, even with Ana Sofia Clerici’s tremendous screenplay, if it hadn’t been for the presence of young Martin Castro in the leading role. Considering the fact that this is the character that dominates the film, even providing insight into his own mind by way of his own narration, an over the top performance would have impacted negatively the film’s credibility. Nothing of the sort happens. Castro is ably directed as any straight-faced kid who wants to be taken seriously, and this accentuates the contrast between his tiny, cute physicality and the complexity of the things he says and the way he says them.
Despite the universal resonance of the film, it is also its intimate nature that makes it so delightful. For instance, the exploration of the contrast between little Jeremy and his parents, enrichens the depth of the screenplay and the film in a greatly rewarding way. The details of El Jeremías‘s narrative pattern set it aside from other coming of age comedy dramas, and carve out its admirable distinction. And, as a more specific observation, it is great for cinema to finally get a marketable Mexican production that is very far from revolving around narcos, gangs, guns and violence. – 4/5