Streeters (De la Calle) (2001)

Running deftly through alleys, across rooftops, and into city sewers, the street kids of Mexico City are both invisible and seemingly everywhere. Rufino (Luis Fernando Peña) and his scrappy circle of friends amuse themselves with dreams of seeing the ocean, leaving the cruel city for a better life once and for all. But the problem is, they joke, that none of them have even been so far as the other side of the freeway. Between taking occasional odd jobs to earn some cash, the street urchins pass their time roving the streets in packs, or getting high in their secret lair in the depths of the sewer system.
Our Rating

Genre(s): Drama

Director: Gerardo Tort

Actors: Luis Fernando Peña, Maya Zapata, Armando Hernández, Mario Zaragoza, Luis Felipe Tovar, Vanessa Bauche

Year: 2001

MPAA Rating: NR

Country: Mexico

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.


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