Boys of Mexico City

Güeros4GüerosOpens Friday, June 12. Pageant Theatre. Not Rated.

In this freewheeling little romp from Mexico, a teenager and his college-age brother goof off in increasingly serious ways during the lengthy 1999 student strike at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in the country’s capital.

Young Tomás (Sebastián Aguirre) is sent off to Mexico City after a prank involving a water balloon gets him banished from the family home in Vera Cruz. Older brother Sombra (Tenoch Huerta) and his roommate Santos (Leonardo Ortizgris) are “on strike against the strike,” but soon they’re visiting the outskirts of the student rebellion, and more.

Both brothers have fitfully passionate quests to pursue—Tomás yearns to track down a legendary folk singer and aging recluse named Epigmenio Cruz, and the brooding Sombra would like to continue his romantic pursuit of the fiery Ana (Ilse Salas), who is one of the leaders of the student strike. Both quests are successful—up to a point—but nobody in this tricky little comedy/adventure gets the satisfaction they’re hoping for. And the film as a whole, shot in black and white and full of odd twists and turns, proceeds accordingly.

In one scene, writer-director Alonso Ruiz Palacios visits with his actors onscreen for a brief conversation about the film’s zigzagging storyline. And that moment is particularly emblematic of the film’s playfully self-reflexive new-wave-style mannerisms.

Huerta does well with the challenges of playing Sombra, but the film’s real star is Salas, who is sharp both as a student rebel and as a French-style road-movie gamine.