Americano is a 2011 film from French director Mathieu Demy. Although he has made several short films, this was his full-length directorial debut. In addition to directing, he also wrote, produced and starred in the film.
Martin (Demy) lives in Paris with his girlfriend, Claire (Chira Mastroianni). Their relationship is strained and seems to be coming to the end when Martin is informed that his mother, who lives in Los Angeles, has died and he must fly there to deal with the inheritance and to bring the body back to Paris. Martin flies to Los Angeles where an old friend of his mothers, Linda (Geraldine Chaplin), meets Martin and takes him back to his mother’s apartment. It becomes obvious that Martin and his mother had an awful relationship. He spent his young childhood living with her in L.A., but then left for Paris to be with his father. Now that he has returned to his childhood home he starts to regain long, forgotten memories. While dealing with the remnants of his mother’s life, Martin learns that she has left her apartment to a young girl named Lola, that Martin remembers playing with when he was a child. He is frustrated that his mother didn’t leave the apartment to him, but Martin does begin a search for Lola (Salma Hayek) that ends up taking him to Tijuana, where he learns that she is an exotic dancer in the club Americano. Martin tries to understand why his mother felt such a connection with Lola, as well as understand why his relationship with her was so poor.
Americano is a decent story that seems to be a personal film for Demy. It’s not that it tells his own life story (which I wouldn’t know), but he seems to have approached this film on a special, more intimate scale. Demy’s real life mother, Agnes Varda, is a highly acclaimed and successful director of her own. She served as a producer on Americano and the film also includes a number of flashback sequences that are from Varda’s 1981 film, Documenteur. These scenes show Demy’s character as a young boy and are actually Demy as a child. It was very interesting to see these older scenes placed into Americano, and it gave the film a more realistic and almost documentary feel.
Americano is extremely well shot, and marvelously acted and directed, but it seems to slow down as it moves along. By the time we get into Tijuana the films structure begins to fall apart, just when it should be intensifying. It doesn’t stand out for its originality, but it more than makes up for it with emotional drama and comes off as a poignant film from a talented young artist.Back to Home for More Reviews