Middle-aged Magdalena (Mercedes Hernandez) has lost contact with her son after he took off with a friend from their town of Guanajuato, Mexico to cross the border into the U.S., hopeful to find work. But he seems to have disappeared so Magdalena desperately goes to look for him, no matter what.
Desperate to find out what happened to her son Jesus (Juan Jesus Varela) – and to know whether or not he’s even alive – Magdalena embarks on an ever-expanding and increasingly dangerous journey to discover her sons fate. At the same time, a young man named Miguel (David Illescas) has returned to Mexico after being deported from the U.S., and eventually his path converges with Magdalena’s. From this evolves a compelling and intense film, from director Fernanda Valadez, who gives us a suspenseful and beautifully shot film that shows how desperate people with so little risk everything to turn their lives around, and to be back together with family. ‘Identifying Features’ is equally constructed of moments of beauty and stillness, and which leads to a startling, shattering conclusion.
To say that ‘Identifying Features’ is a quiet film is an understatement – but this film also packs a powerful punch. The story, the way it is told, and the acting by all involved, especially Hernandez, whose struggle and determination are almost literally painted on her face, are all first class – and the last scenes in the film will leave a lasting memory. Strong, powerful stuff, and an unexpected amazing film that it a must watch.
Deservedly the winner of the Gotham Award for Best International Film and the Audience Award and Best Screenplay prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
Opening January 22 on Kino Marquee and virtual cinemas nationwide
Mexico/In Spanish with English subtitles / 94 min