Country: Mexico / France
Movie Review: “The Amazing Catfish” is a Mexican drama that revolves around Claudia (Ximena Ayala), an unenthusiastic supermarket employee who was literally adopted by the HIV-positive Martha (Luisa Owen), after they've shared the same hospital room. Claudia was subjected to surgery after she was diagnosed with appendicitis while the moribund Martha is a dedicated mother of three daughters and a son, who was infected by the father of her two younger children. In their own way, each child is in need of attention – Ale, the oldest, is deeply affected by a breakup; Wendy seems lively and self-assured in her decisions but hides some worrying details of her life; the two youngest, Armando and Mariana, are frightened and disoriented with the situation of their mother. Claudia plays a central role within this family; the family she never had. More heartwarming than conspicuous, the film suffers from occasional relaxation, and its intentions of being seen as more natural as possible, sometimes fall in repetitive situations that don’t add much to the story. The characters could, and should, be better developed, but instead, the debutant filmmaker Claudia Sainte-Luce seemed more concerned about showing us bee stings, mosquito bites or jellyfish burns, besides Armando’s catfish swimming in a bowl of water. She tries to counterbalance the heaviness and sadness of the central story, creating situations that are both positive and encouraging – a vacation trip to the beach, friendly conversations, little moments of joy, a comforting shoulder when one has to cry. All this is justifiable but, even though, the film worked emotionally intermittent for me, ending as a personal letter that missed my essence’s address.