Inspired by his experience as a Mexico City native who relocated to Germany, writer-producer-director Jorge Ramírez-Suárez has created a warm and enjoyable cross-cultural fairy tale in "Buen Día, Ramón" (original title: "Guten Tag, Ramón").
This ultimate pescado-out-of-water story finds the bighearted Ramón (Kristyan Ferrer), a poor young Mexican man repeatedly thwarted in his efforts to cross into the United States, making an unlikely trip to Germany to find work to help support his mother (Arcelia Ramírez) and grandmother (Adriana Barraza).
But when Ramón arrives in snowy Wiesbaden (how he navigates the journey there is quite endearing), he discovers that his friend's émigré aunt, who's agreed to help Ramón find a job, has vanished. With good cheer, ingenuity and, most especially, the kindness of strangers, the euroless Ramón stays afloat until he's taken under the wing of Ruth (Ingeborg Schöner), a kindly retiree who brings him to live and work in her senior apartment building.
The movie hangs largely on the memorable friendship that develops between Ramón and Ruth — she rents him a hooker! — despite the language barrier that strangely bonds the mismatched pair. That Ferrer and Schöner play their roles with such understated grace and charisma goes far to bolster the credibility factor.
The film's buoyant first half gives way to an episodic, slower third quarter that's decidedly light on needed twists and complications. We also lose Ramón's point of view a bit along the way, especially at a pivotal, late-breaking moment that may decide his fate as a European visitor.
Still, "Ramón" is a charming, involving excursion with much to recommend for a range of audiences.
"Buen Día, Ramón."
MPAA rating: PG-13 for sexual material, language and an intense situation.
Running time: 2 hours, 2 minutes.
Playing: In limited release.