Review: I Carry You With Me (Te Llevo Conmigo)

Written and directed by Heidi Ewing, co-written by Alan Page, ambition and societal pressure propel an aspiring chef to leave his soulmate in Mexico and make the treacherous journey to New York, where life will never be the same. Starring: Armando Espitia, Christian Vazquez, Michelle Rodríguez, Ángeles Cruz, Raúl Briones, Arcelia Ramírez, Pascacio López, Michelle González, Iván García and Gerardo Zabaleta.

The most unique aspect of this film, which is best to know going in, is that it’s not simply a dramatisation, it’s a mix of drama and documentary. Starting out with a stylised recreation of how Iván and Gerardo met, then eventually moving into documentary footage of their lives twenty years after you leave the actors. It’s a highly unusual choice and one that is unfortunately not the smoothest of transitions. Rather than the two being fully blended with one another, the majority is dedicated to the drama portion and other than a few brief appearances, only the last twenty or so minutes move over to reality. It’s a shame as it feels as though it undermines the strength of the first portion, it moves on at a moment that robs viewers of some of the most satisfying moments of their life story. It’s also a jarring move in style, it goes from having a great texture and colour to a much more frank, real perspective and it’s hard to reconcile the two in such a quick transition.

Heidi Ewing’s direction in the drama section has a solid atmosphere, it really captures both the charming almost cheeky romance side and the affecting, sad reality of the homophobia they experienced. There are two very different energies to it which you’d imagine would clash but actually work very well. The writing side does fall into a few cliches of gay stories but they’re easily looked over. The interaction between Gerardo and his father when he was a boy is a horrifying reality but given that it’s based in truth, it’s one that has sadly likely been experienced by many in a similar form. The pacing does start to lose some of its energy in the second half but it’s undoubtedly an inspiring story, well worth telling.

Armando Espitia and Christian Vazquez have a very natural chemistry, it’s perhaps not as steamy as it tries to be at times but it’s genuine. They feel like very individual personalities and yet come across as very similar people at heart. They’re very easy to watch, the emotions are strong but fairly understated which is moving and smartly avoids feeling over dramatic.

I Carry You With Me is the type of story we should hear more, struggle, hard work, sacrifice and never giving up. The choice to mix a documentary and drama format sadly doesn’t work very well to do the story perfect justice but it’s a bold and unusual choice. It’s a moving, sincere and humble story, directed with an elegance and colour that draws out the romance, but simply stumbles over the finish line.

Verdict: ✯✯✯

Available now on Digital & VOD

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