El Espiritu De Mi Mama
Vanguard // Unrated // $29.99 // June 24, 2003
Review by Don Houston | posted August 2, 2003
M O V I E
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Skip It
E - M A I L
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R E V I E W S
Graphical Version
Movie: In my continuing quest to explore uncharted territory in independent films, I came across a title that seemed promising to me, Spirit Of My Mother (AKA: El Spiritu De Mi Mama). The movie is a personal look at a young gal from the Honduras who is trying to find her place in life while working in the United States as a domestic worker. She had a child with a military man who promptly left ("All men are the same" according to her lengthy soliloquy) and she is having troubles making ends meet. Her mother passed away not too long ago and the girl, Sonia (Johana Martinez), struggles with dreams of mom. In an effort to make sense of her dreams, she seeks guidance from friends and religious rituals. By confronting her roots, instead of running from them as she has learned to do in the past, she may be able to determine her own worth and own future rather than be forced into more situations where she lacks control.

As an educated person, I take issue with the premise of this short film that the answers to the future necessarily lie in religious ritual. Further, as a man, I take exception with the message here that all men are worthless and single minded (after all, a guy's got to eat too, right?). I'm very happy that director/writer/producer/everything else Ali Allie finds her answers in such limited ways but most people, even those with strong religious beliefs, will likely find the message less than appealing. It betrays the feminist angle as well since self reliance is far more likely to help young gals in similar situations. If the movie helped the director get it all out of her system, so be it but it'd have been nice if the message could've been a bit less personal, to increase it's applicability.

The acting of the movie was not too bad for such a low budget independent release but more often than not, the performers appeared to be making it up as they went along. The sets looked like they were also done on the fly and the script probably never existed in written form. I wish there was more to like here but it was just so limited that I didn't have any fun watching it. For it's low entertainment value, on top of all the other limitations it had, I rate this one a Skip It.

Picture: The picture was presented in 1.33:1 ratio full frame color. The picture lacked detail and clarity, often looking like it was washed out in terms of color. This is the fate of many ultra low budget movies but those often have an appealing premise to prop up the lack of higher end production values.

Sound: The sound was presented in stereo Spanish with burnt in English subtitles (not optional as the dvd case suggests). Not much directionality and little separation between the channels but the music was interesting to listen to and the vocals were clear.

Extras: none

Final Thoughts: While I can sympathize with the theme of remembering one's roots, to suggest that moving back to the Honduras will bring enlightenment and culture in a young gal's life sounds like a plan rooted in failure. For all the desire to remain true to oneself and our roots, there's no reason why it can't be done from the relative security of a foreign land (in this case, the USA). As it was, the movie seemed to be a jumble of various messages and left half finished by the director when the money ran out.



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