‘Somos’ Review

If Netflix’s Narcos depicts the failures of the War on Drugs and the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border through a lens heavily influenced by the films of Martin Scorsese, the streamer’s six-part TV series Somos tackles a parallel real-life tragedy through a lens-like sensation perceived by John Sayles.

This new release is slower, less sensational and less thrilling Narcos often so, but its approach to the 2011 Los Zetas Massacre in Allende, 34 miles south of the Pierdas Negras border post, was nuanced. It’s more of a tapestry about a diverse community on the brink of something terrible than a voyeuristic depiction of a sadist, which gives it depth even if some parts of Its vast population never feels fully formed or expressed.


Key point

The humanistic texture compensates for the clumsy plot.

Release date: Wednesday, June 30 (Netflix)

Cast: Jesús Sida, Salvador Montenegro, Jimena Pagaza, Germán Guzmán, Jesús Herrera, Mario Alberto Quiñones, Manuel de Jesús, Óscar Guzmán, Eduardo Humarán, Natalia Martínez, Ulises Soto, Jero Arm Medina, Arelí González, Iliana Laro Silva, Iliana Laro Silva Iliana Laro Silva Mercedes Hernandez, Everardo Arzate, Josué Guerra
Caraly Sanchez

Creator: James Schamus

Somos – the title translates as “We Are” – adapted from the ProPublica report by Ginger Thompson by Oscar-nominated writer and producer James Schamus and Mexican screenwriters Monika Revilla and Fernanda Melchor. Thompson’s report, if you haven’t read it yet, is an incredible oral history chronicling the events of March 2011, when a small army affiliated with the powerful Zetas corporation tore down Allende and destroyed the home. doors and businesses, kidnapping and killing citizens in undetermined numbers. maybe hundreds. The story blames the massacre at the foot of a sabotaged DEA operation outside of Texas, though other reports point to a web of causality, the inevitable terrifying consequences of corporate power struggles, local corruption and law enforcement scrutiny.

Thompson’s report is filled with the voices and stories of real people involved, but for what is assumed to be legal reasons, Schamus and his team built a team essentially from the ground up, with several apparently fictional versions of actual key characters and other characters inspired by details in Thompson’s story, if not the literal ones. As if to restore some of the lost authenticity in that fiction, about half of the cast of Somos is made up of non-professional actors, a casting strategy that really gives the scenes some background, although it is very, very easy to tell the pros from the amateurs. easy.

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The series begins with satires surrounding weapons at a prison and kicks off what would become the massacre, before returning for a nearly five-hour prelude, spanning at least half a dozen storylines. effects vary, with no clear preference.

There is the Linares family, led by the patriarch Isidro (Fernando Larrañaga), powerful local ranchers, whose lives have been turned upside down by the encroachment of corporations and the return of an illegitimate child. Benjamin (Jero Medina), who is heavily indebted to wrongdoers. There is a sweet innocent Paquito (Jesús Sida), who lives with his wife Aracely (Natalia Martinez), their child, and Aracely’s mother Doña Chayo (Mercedes Hernandez), whose position is the owner of a local food cart. way for her to keep an eye on the town. There are high school football friends and teammates Nancy (Jimena Pagaza), Tom (Mario Alberto Quiñones) and Armando (Jesús Herrera) who have complicated lives when the two of them start dating and with the portrayal of Samuel (Ulises Soto), a new kid whose powerful father (Antonio López Torres) is linked to a number of nasty elements. There are sisters Irene (Iliana Donatlán) and Erika (Arelí González), sketchy shipping magnate Hector (Armando Silva), plus residents of a local brothel with ties to human trafficking operations.

Meanwhile, in the United States, we meet DEA agents Carlos (Martin Peralta) and Stephanie (Kerry Ardra) who are perplexed to discover that two key members of the Zetas operation – named Z- 40 and Z-42 – have permanent residence outside of town do not have this account. They later learn that a Dallas-area drug dealer (Josué Guerra’s Oscar winner) can be more influential than they previously realized.

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Somos can be divided into the plot that will trigger the final massacre and the plot where the massacre will eventually be truncated – the plot exists for the reason of the plot and the plot exists for the reason of characterization. Plots that exist for characterizing reasons tend to be glimpses of life in that Sayles tradition; they are gentle, sincere and, if we are completely honest, can be seen as ticking boxes representing certain views that need to be acknowledged. These are my favorite parts of the series, and I appreciate that Schamus and his writers are willing to sit back and watch a love triangle unfold or document the intense daily details of a boy trying to find his purpose in living with his disapproving mother-in-law and more mature wife. The treatment of Allende as a town of dreamers, some ambitious and some more intimate, about to be completely swept away by evil forces brings this heartbreaking beat to heartbreak. and these descriptions contain many of my favorite performances from the series, including those by Hernandez, Sida, and Pagaza.

Is it a manipulation on a small scale when we know what will happen to most of the town? Sure, but directors Alvaro Curiel and Mariana Chenillo, plus cinematographer Ignacio Prieto, commit to these stories and unfamiliar faces, and treat Allende as a place worthy of protection – or damn it, a place that has been defeated by those entrusted to protect it.

The series is less successful when it comes to plot focus. Things in the Stateside DEA office are purely mechanical. Agents Carlos and Stephanie have no direction and their scenes don’t offer any suspense or insight into a flawed process. It’s a bad position for writers: You feel nobility not wanting to let this Mexican tragedy be followed by an American plot with recognizable English-speaking actors, but oppose it. source article titled “How the United States Triggered the Massacre in Mexico. “

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You want causality and you want to blame poorly managed American intelligence resources without providing the audience with even the slightest bit of interest? I guess the quest is done. Unfortunately, the cartel-related parts of the Mexican story aren’t particularly good either. Torres’ Cesar is too simple to threaten and Medina’s Benjamin is just too pathetic, and when one part of the series goes into a run-down private prison, it’s something from a TV show. rather than in reality, regardless of how real such prisons are. There’s just too much perfunctory about the movie’s plot, standard cable/streaming quagmire depictions of stress buildup to rape, torture, and adversity.

Fortunately, at no time Somos ever became too focused on the clumsy plot. How and why what happened in Allende is important, but less so than everyone’s experience of the very bad thing that happened. There’s bloody violence here, but this is really a story about an elderly woman pushing a snack cart on unpaved streets, a farm foreman trying to make a deal with her son. gay, a young woman looking for love and respect as a soccer player.

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