A classic, and still as enjoyable, funny, and poignant today as when Robert Rodriguez showed it to great acclaim at Sundance and Independent Spirit Awards. Made on a shoestring budget of $7,000, the film has an honest immediacy which is appealing and cements its status as a classic. With some Fellini-esque dream sequences, Western showdowns and terse sentences in arid towns and cool saloons, and a lot of screwball comedy involving guitars, turtles, and matches lit against faces, it also pays homage to other classics. Best of all are the quickly-sketched but well-defined characters who give the film its warmth: the escaped troublemaker Azul who is protected by a trio of machine gun-wielding women, the daft but well-meaning men of the drug dealer Moco, and finally, the romantic mariachi himself, whose dreams of love and music are swiftly killed. With notable performances by Reinol Martinez as Azul and Jaime Rodriguez as Moco’s key man.
El Mariachi, dir. Robert Rodriguez, 81 min. Los Hooliganos Productions, 1991. In Spanish.