REEL CRITIC:

Shot in Mexico and in New York City, where most of the action takes place, “Sangre de Mi Sangre” (Blood of My Blood) is the most intense, gut-wrenching film I have seen in some time.

This story of subterfuge and bitterness slowly builds to an eventual boiling point but there is no relaxation for the audience along the way, no comic relief to catch a break from the tension. By the time the credits rolled, I was emotionally spent and I felt haunted for days by the images that I had witnessed, and despite the good work put in by the cast, I confess that I had a difficult time enjoying this film.

Pedro (Jorge Espindola) and Juan (Armando Hernandez) are two young men who are anxious to get to the United States, Pedro to meet his long estranged father and Juan to escape the wrath of other petty criminals with whom he has had misdealings. With help from some crooked officers of the U.S. Border Patrol, the two, who become friendly during the trip, eventually arrive in New York in a crowded, sweaty truck trailer. Exhausted by the ordeal, Pedro awakens in the empty truck to find his belongings and his friend gone. He is cast out on the street penniless and unable to speak the language.

Juan assumes Pedro's identity and finds the father working in a restaurant. Juan is rebuffed at first by the taciturn Diego played by Jesus Ochoa, a popular Latin actor, but works hard to win the old man's confidence knowing that Diego has hidden most of his meager earnings somewhere in his squalid apartment.

Pedro meanwhile meets Magda (Paola Mendoza), a hard-boiled street urchin who teaches the naïve young man the tough ways of the street. They become involved in several frightening misadventures before Pedro eventually meets Juan and the frantic climax of the film ensues.

The direction by first-timer Chris Zalla, apart from a few problems, is quite good in this suspenseful thriller and the acting is superb. But even with those things to its credit, “Sangre de Mi Sangre” is spoiled by the relentless intensity that just never lets up. Dramatists from antiquity knew the benefits of comic relief. If done correctly it momentarily soothes the audience and none of the tension of the story is lost. Director Zalla may benefit from reading some of the Greek tragedies and perhaps Shakespeare as well.

The filming is done in muted color and some of it appeared to be almost sepia toned. The film was released earlier this year under the title “Padre Nuestro” (Our Father) in Mexico and was widely acclaimed there by critics and audiences alike.

Perhaps the length of the film (almost two hours) and the unrelenting intensity of the action stand as a metaphor on its own for the dreary, unrelenting lives of some of the poor unlucky people who land here in the United States without friends, papers, and funds to get along.


?JEFF KLEMZAK of La Crescenta has been a film fan for life.

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