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‘I Carry You With Me’ has plenty of passion and warmth in sweeping romance | NYFF 2020

‘I Carry You With Me’ has plenty of passion and warmth in sweeping romance | NYFF 2020

‘I Carry You With Me’ has plenty of passion and warmth in sweeping romance | NYFF 2020
October 01
13:16 2020

“You are my surprise. But you arrived a little too soon.”

Aspiring chef Iván and his partner Gerardo navigate financial troubles, the wandering eyes of homophobia and their own ambition in their Mexican town before Iván embarks on a journey to New York, hoping to find a new life for himself before all the crippling pressures against him and his partner threaten to destroy one another and their relationship.

The exact location and time period are never discussed in “I Carry You With Me,” but the ideas present in the film on sexual discrimination mirror a disturbing reality to today’s present time concerning that very idea. The fact that it does not specifically mention the exact time in the film only further emphasizes the harsh realities of our modern day society that while there may be progress, there is always room for more to be done. I cannot speak too much into the culture that permeates the frames of “I Carry You With Me,” but its parallels to modern American society are glaring and nonetheless unfortunate. I am aware that Mexico can be a dangerous place for LGBTQ individuals just as America can be. While the parallel might not be an intentional link by the director, it is one that certainly cannot be ignored.

Now, the positive aspects of the Mexican culture the film revels in are very fun to watch. The diegetic music, gorgeous backdrops and, of course, the food, speak to how well ordained the film is to its own culture. Director Heidi Ewing is not a Mexican woman herself, and as much as I would have liked to see a Mexican woman direct a film like this, Ewing pays proper respect to the culture she is surrounding herself with, thankfully never disrespecting all the different facets that come with the culture.

Ewing has background in documentary filmmaking and while this film is a narrative feature, it is based on a true story which plays to Ewing’s strengths well. There are a number of scenes that play out in almost documentary style fashion. Cinematographer Juan Pablo Ramirez shoots the film as if it were a documentary, stalling on our central character’s faces primed with emotion at their highest peak, then, to the gorgeous, one-of-a-kind buildings that can be found in Mexico. Pairing Ewing’s background of documentary filmmaking and Ramirez’s beautiful, realistic cinematography makes the film feel as raw and real as it looks.

“I Carry You With Me” is a relatively calm film, but there is a sequence that shows Iván crossing the border to go to New York that has the feel of a thriller. It is a jarring tonal shift, but it is one that effectively works, especially juxtaposed against the relative calm nature of the film that follows this prolonged sequence. This sequence also plays out as another frightening parallel to the modern American society with regard to immigration. It is not until the end of the film where this is more heavily explored in a truly heart-shattering moment for our characters.

The film does not always work, however, sometimes not giving near enough development to our central characters and their long-winded romance. It instead sometimes opts for rushed expository dialogue when it should be showing the viewers these passionate moments they speak of so tenderly. However, when the film does do this, it becomes a warm, passionate film that rises on the strength of the chemistry between the two leads and the director’s clear affinity for all the things she is capturing.

Final rating: 3.5/5

“I Carry You With Me” will be released in the US on January 21, 2021. 

This film was screened virtually as part of the 58th annual New York Film Festival by the reviewer. 

Featured image: Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics

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Spencer Kain

Spencer Kain

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