Not being familiar with Spanish language television, I'll have to trust wikipedia (a dangerous thing) when it states that TV Azteca is the second largest network in Mexico. Cielo is a tv movie filmed for the station, a standard coming of age, after school special, Lifetime network worthy, troubled teen tale.
Gabriel (Alan Chavez) is a fifteen year old with a troubled home life. His father abandoned the family long ago. Gabriel lives with his idolized older brother, his bitchy older sister Sofia (Giovanna Zacarias), his terminally ill mother, and a nurse boarder. After his mother dies, Gabriel take the loss especially hard, begins skipping school, not doing his homework, and generally lashing out at Sofia, who is not prepared for the role of replacement mother.
After an uncle advises Sofia to curtail Gabriel by sending him to boarding school, Gabriel runs away and begins to live alone on the streets (well, technically he does have a pet gerbil named ‟Compadre‟ with him). He is befriended by a girl, Cielo (Paulina Gaytan), who turns into his first real love. Trouble is, Cielo has a psychotic, thuggish, older brother, Gato (Miguel Plata), who uses Gabriel's situation and love for Cielo against him by forcing the young runaway to perform petty crimes with increasing severity and consequences.
I don't mind fluff.
I'll often forgive severe gaps in film logic.
But, when you combine film fluff with illogic that leads to a wrong-headed message, then I've got a problem.
Its natural for a kid, especially a hormonal teen, to act out when faced with trauma, and it is also forgivable for his older sister to be confused about how to handle it. She snaps with a quick temper and the only advice she gets is to try severely disciplining Gabriel before he gets too out of control. The film denounces this as horrible advice and by the end suggests that the true solution was love and caring. Seriously??? As someone who was raised within a dysfunctional family, this advice is complete and total bullshit. Love and understanding is fantastic, but it ain't a cure all.
A cute enough tale of young love and a crazy, mixed-up kid. Sure, it could've been condensed into 22 mins, or enlightened by the presence of Meredith Baxter Berney, but you cannot have it all in your family entertainment. Gabriel's character was a tad confusing, coming off like a bit of a whiner, and prone to terrible decision making (like coming home in blood drenched clothes, pointing a gun at a his sister, and screaming that he is innocent). Cielo is purely an archetype, the sainted good girl with love and understanding that will save you.
90% of Sofia's scenes consist of her tearfully on the phone. Gato is painted as the sort of thug who still lives at home, holds down a job, and is too timid to commit his own crimes. Then the film turns on a dime and he's boosted to be weirdly, cartoon villainish with ‟scary‟ contact lenses, face-licking tendencies, and threatens to have his sister gang-raped by his buddies if Gabriel doesn't rob a convenience store.
The DVD: Laguna.
Non-Anamorphic Widescreen. The image is not half-bad. Much of the film is verite style, lots of handheld camera work, so the rougher DV image reflects the wannabe gritty subject matter. There is a good deal of grain and some slight noise.
2.0 Stereo, Spanish language with optional English subtitles. Solid sound. The only missives are some rougher dialogue recording in a few scenes, but it is not so poor that the actors cannot be distinctly heard. The score was very good. A few minor errors make the subs less than perfect but overall they appeared to be well translated and timed.
Trailers for other TV Azteca releases but nothing really pertinent to the feature.
Cielo is certainly not the worst fare, and as a telefilm it is well-directed, sharply paced, and well-performed. The main fault lies in the uneven scripting wherein every moment of naturalism is countered by some moment of treacle or just general, generic, lazy writing. The disc is slight. At best, worth a casual rental.