by Greg Muskewitz
The second movie at the festival that I hit the same night after the minor disappointment of "Ave MarIa" was SebastiAn Cordero's Ecuadorian "Ratas, ratones, rateros" (all three of which are simply condensed in English as "Rodents"), which is in reference to the low-life behavior of a selected teenage group. That means that there in Ecuador, they have problems or classifications not that much out of the realm of, say "Gummo" or "Hurricane Streets." Is this to come as a surprise?Salvador (Marco Bustos) isn't exactly the model citizen kid --he was kicked out of school, is only informing his widower-father the morning that the movie starts, etc., but he does fall into a "teen norm" of sleeping in half the day, masturbating while on the toilet, and so forth. His older cousin, Angel (Carlos Valencia) is almost killed in pre-coitum, and comes running for shelter and adventure without thinking about consequences for himself, his cousin, or anyone else for that matter. But hey, they're delinquents, are we supposed to expect them to know right from wrong?
"In or out of social constructs, it's still the same old song."
In or out of social constructs, this is no more than a typical tale of juvenile delinquency, and like movies such as "Gummo," it goes nowhere with the premise, or with the characters, and posits no suggestions for how to help prevent something of this nature. It's an observation alright, but one without a conscience, purpose or meaning. Why should we even care to see what happens with these characters. There is an absence of parenting to a degree, but I do not see that as a fault of the parents, I see that as a choice the teens have made on their own in a disinterest to them. The characters are bare scrawls of concept, and have no fusion with or to the audience. The character of Angel, the main recalcitrance perpetrator, the bete noire, but not even in the position of fun to hate as an audience choice, is shoved down our throat. He has no redemptive qualities and never attempts to make them. It's all a solipsistic existence for him, and maybe that is to blame of society, but none of the other characters seem to suffer from this in the extreme that he does. Ultimately, instead of showing what might be done as a panacea at least to help out this group, Cordero is making light of the delinquency and Angel's actions by trying to be humorous and insouciant about it, but still wavering in a pedantic and preachy manner. It is as if Cordero thinks its too funny to pass up (especially when dealing with Salvador's inability to make it through any type of ejaculation, whether inby self-achievement, or with the company of another), even though it is not nearly as heinously apprehended by "Ciudad de M." Instead, we are left with an unmotivated change-of-heart by a friend who didn't want to end up in the thuggish path, an unshown epiphany on Salvador's part, and the unchanged free-base-spawned (the same type of drug used in "Traffic") ways of Angel. And also the unstylish flash and blinding stock-like cuts by Cordero, acting as if this cinematic temperament was something new. Well, maybe in Ecuador.Final Verdict: D.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5160&reviewer=172
originally posted: 03/13/01 19:42:40