Abel is about a abnormal young boy who, as he blurs reality and fantasy, takes over the responsibilities of a family man in his father's absence. Abel (Christopher Ruiz-Esparza) is an unstable child whose problems have only gotten worse since his father walked out on the family. No one in the family is sure what to do for Abel or how they should behave around him, and a stay in a mental hospital does little to ground him. However, one day Abel wakes up and decides that he's the man of the house, and starts acting like his absent father rather than the youngest child. To the surprise of everyone, adult responsibilities agree with Abel, and everybody seems significantly happier with his new personality. But this proves to be short lived when Abel's real dad unexpectedly returns, and the two vie for the status of head of the household.
Engrossing, Intelligent FareFriday, March 04, 2011
For his Ist narrative feature as director, Luna takes an offbeat look at parenthood through the eyes of an unusual child. The result is engaging and involving, and so strange that it is not possible to guess where the story's going.
Abel (Christopher Ruiz-Esparza) is a 9-year-old who's been in a hospital mental ward for the past 2 years. He returns home not quite healed: he thinks he's his own missing father and starts parenting his big sister (Alejandra) and little brother (Gerardo Ruiz-Esparza). His mother (Gidi) goes along with it out of concern for Abel's mental health, but when his separated father (Yazpik) returns, things begin getting out of hand. And it appears like there are only 2 options: carry on indulging Abel's illusion or send him back to hospital.
As a director, Luna skilfully maintains a warm sense of humour while stirring in a growing sense of discomfort about what might occur. The story keeps surprising us along the way, just as events are clearly surprising the characters, which makes us identify with them and travel this bizarre journey in their company. Luna achieves this with intensely personal camera work and editing, plus production design that's both clearly colourful and logically earthy.
In his Ist acting role, Christopher Ruiz-Esparza holds the movie together beautifully while Luna and the rest of the cast quietly permit him to develop Abel into an unforgettable little boy. Every actor brings a raw honesty to his or her performance to make this family eerily believable. So when the long-lost dad returns, we feel the shift considerably. From here things grow increasingly strong, and even if the climactic set piece lacks a gut punch, it's pretty wrenching to watch.
A movie about a mentally unstable child could be a tough thing to watch, but Luna fills each scene with gentle humankind, jagged humour and vivid interaction. He also reveals truths about family interaction in ways that are both appealing and thoughtful. This may be a small movie with a original story, but it has unforgettable things to say to all of us. And it marks Luna as a director with rare compassion and skill.
No goofs found.
No taglines found.
No trivia found.
No quotes found.