In a desperate act to follow his dream, Rufino steals some drug money from a corrupt cop, with the full intention of leaving town by nightfall with his girlfriend Xochitl (Maya Zapata) and her baby. But when he hears a rumor from a crazy street prophet that his long-thought-dead father is actually still alive and living in the city, Rufino feels that he must find and meet the man who abandoned him as a baby. With clues leading to dead ends, and a crazed violent cop on his trail, Rufino may be running out of time.
Streeters is filmed in that ever-popular documentary-like gritty style, which lends itself well here, adding to the grimness of the urban environment. The film goes deep into the crevices of the forgotten alleys and sewers where these kids live, fending for themselves, having babies, taking drugs, and stealing to survive. The cast is able and to the task, especially Maya Zapata as the young woman with the baby (clean her up, and she’d be a dead ringer for Jessica Alba).
But the documentary style also removes us, the audience, from the story. I didn’t feel as involved with the characters as I think I was supposed to be, and the story was excessively bleak (reminding me a lot of the films Kids). However, Gerardo Tort makes an assured directorial debut with this film, and as he rides the wave of hot new Mexican cinema, I’d be very curious to see where he goes with his next project.