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I Carry You With Me, An Overrated Same-Sex Love Story, Epic In Design Not In Execution

I Carry You With Me (Spanish,With English Subtitles)

Starring  Armando Espitia, Christian Vázquez

Directed by  Heidi Ewing

Rating: ** ½

I really wanted to  like this  hugely lauded  Mexican film  about two men who hide their mutual love for decades. It is an epic  love story. But I am afraid  the execution of the real-life  love story is far from epic.

 Director Heidi Ewing comes from documentary  filmmaking. She brings her docu-sensibilities into a story that needed a David Lean’s vision. Instead  it gets a director who turns a panoramic  romance sweeping into several  decades  and two countries, into a  lean lithe exasperatingly  confusing story of sexual identity.

 Like all  great and cheesy same-sex love stories  I Carry You With Me has one  partner  out of the closet and  the  other in it. Ivan(Armando Espitia) is  the one hiding in the closet because he has plenty to lose: mainly the right to  meet  his son and of course societal approbation ,a  big thing   during the  times when the film begins(not sure when,  because  the director  chooses uncertainty  in every  factor related to the epic romance).

We are led into  Ivan’s love story  by the  real-life  Ivan. Then in  the intermittent flashbacks  the actor playing Ivan takes  over. The same is true of the love of Ivan’s life Gerardo(Christian Vazquez). As we go  back and forth into the  love story with two sets of actors(rather  one set of actors and their real-life  counterparts), the narrative  rapidly losses  its cohesiveness slipping off the edges  then scampering back to the  surface because  …well…the  love story itself is  so poignant  and  powerful. The  film based on  the love story is sadly none of the above. Compounding its uneasy marriage of fact and fiction is  the hand-held quivering camera. It may define the state of the Ivan-Gerardo relationship. But the constantly  restless camera  does nothing to build our faith in the central relationship. We watch the epic love story with the  distant  interest  that we may  give  to  documentary where   the narrator is   unable to  pull us into what must have been a life-defining experience .

Adding to  our woes is the lighting or the lack of it. Most  of the film,  even when Juan the  chef  moves from Mexico to  New York city, is shot in dark dingy desperately  doom-drenched  places where love is a fugitive.

Not that the film  lacks in  merit. It has episodes  of brilliance that shines through the  cheerless gloom. Two sequences  stood out for me. The first is when Juan’s  wife shows  up with their son at his doorstep in the pouring rain when  he is with  Gerardo. The  other memorable sequence is that  where Juan tries to sneak into America from Mexico with an out-of-shape cousin posing as his wife.

 The crossover  is  of course metaphoric. Sometimes borders can be killers. While the film negotiates  its  protagonist  geographically and sexually,  it fails to take the audience along.

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