BGN Film Review: ‘Museo’

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Museo is a beautiful work of art featuring stunning cinematography and visuals, beautiful music, and a one of a kind story-line. The acting is amazing, the experimentation with visuals are greatly appreciated the language in which it is filmed in, Spanish, makes the film even better.

Museo, which means museum in English, takes place in Mexico City in 1985 and is loosely inspired by a true story. It is a Mexican heist film about two men, Juan (Gael García Bernal) and his best bud Wilson (Leonardo Ortizgris), who steal 140 artifacts from the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. From the beginning of the film, we are met with stunning visuals with a panning of kids playing the flute at school, water fountains, and swings at a playground. The angles vary from top views, and close-ups, and even a unique look inside a camera lens.

Viewers learn from the beginning that Juan works at the museum. In one of the opening scenes, he is very fascinated and intrigued by the artifacts he sees and can’t resist touching. From this scene alone, we know that Juan must be the mastermind behind the heist. Wilson, who is also the narrator of the film, is the soft-spoken sidekick that anyone planning a heist needs. Juan relies on him heavily and puts a lot of his trust in him.

The film takes places during the Christmas season.  A news reporter mentions that because of ongoing construction the museum is set to be closed for the season. While this is unfortunate for the kids who love to go to the museum on their holiday break, this is perfect for Juan. He takes this as an opportunity to go with his plan. Initially, Wilson refuses but Juan doesn’t give him much of a choice. The phone conversation between the two is pretty hilarious, with Wilson refusing each time and Juan completely ignoring Wilson’s indecisiveness and telling him to meet him at their secret location anyway.

There is also a strong emphasis on family in the film. The family dynamic in Museo is very special and realistic. At the Christmas dinner table, the whole family chit chats about random things such as Orcas–and most all of them make fun of that one family member–which in this film just so happens to be Juan. One may wonder why Juan wanted to rob the museum in the first place. He seemed to have lived a generally average, stress-free life, with a big loving family, despite the way they treat him. Juan’s family drama unravels throughout the film.

Most of the story follows the journey of the two attempting to sell the stolen goods. They drive miles, and miles from their home to meet a potential dealer while on the run from the cops. There are plenty of humorous scenes along the way while watching this part of the film, making it a great buddy road trip movie.

Juan is a very loving character. You almost feel bad for him and hope that he finds whatever it is that he is searching for. He is painted as sort of a lost soul, someone who is still trying to figure out what he wants from life. Although he is technically a criminal, in this film he does not seem like such.

Museo is a wonderful film with many layers. It features family drama, a road trip, failures, and flawed characters all accompanied by great shots, angles, and music (Score, Tomás Barreiro). Museo is a must see and I am anticipating that this film will receive many nominations, awards, and positive feedback. Genuinely inventive films are hard to come by. There are tons of films with great actors or great plots, but often times the cinematography is completely ignored. When in actuality, cinematography (director of photography, Damián García) and great directing (director Alonso Ruizpalacios) is just as important as the other parts mentioned.

Movies are a form of visual media, which is why the visual aspect of the film should be treated as just as important as any other aspect. Museo for visuals alone deserves to be watched, the acting, and writing are great additions that make this heartfelt, Mexican heist movie worth seeing.