Featured Photo by IMBD
Story by Larry Rincon
With the start of Hispanic Heritage month only a week away, I was expecting more films starring hispanic leads to make their way to the theater. Instead, September is full of horror and comedies with the nearing spooky season.
However, one film I have been waiting to watch, that does include Mexican representation, has finally had its theatrical release.
“Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” was teased to be in production back in 2016. The novel of the name had been released four years prior and received a lot of positive reviews. Unfortunately I did not read the book, but I think that regardless of reading or not reading the book this is a must-watch movie.
“Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” follows two Mexican-American teens, Aristotle Mendoza and Dante Quintana, after they meet in El Paso in the summer of 1987.
Throughout the film, the two struggle with their identities. Quintana talks about not liking being Mexican and not liking Mexicans because he feels like Mexicans don’t like him. Mendoza, on the other hand, keeps to himself without wanting to get close to others and become like any of the stereotypical cliques.
When Quintana moves to Chicago, the letters they write to each other tell a lot about their growth. At least in Quintana’s case, you get to learn how he experiments and learns about who he is in terms of his sexuality. You get insight on his fears and curiosities.
Mendoza isn’t as active with the letters. His responses are limited in what he shares. However, I do think that you get to know more about how he runs from the things that happen around him when you see what he doesn’t tell Quintana.
The relationship that the two boys develop was told really well and it felt so real. The two of them are so different, but the way their thoughts and actions complement each other was beautiful. You manage to understand both perspectives even though the movie is told through Mendoza’s point of view.
Aside from the struggles the boys go through, I do think there is stuff to relate to and understand. Being Mexican myself, I could draw so many parallels between my experiences and theirs.
I grew much like Mendoza with a family that sucks at voicing out our emotions. Everything gets bottled up, and we’re never taught how to release all the pent up anger, sadness and more. I relate to Quintana not feeling Mexican enough. You get judged and stared at by people of your community just because you’re a little different.
This may be a coming of age story, but it is still a story that some of us have experienced, are experiencing, or might experience. Times may be different now, but some things don’t just simply go away after a generation or two.
As much as I enjoyed my movie experience, I was the only person in the auditorium watching this movie the night before its official release. It’s disheartening to know that people don’t feel inclined to watch one: movies with Mexican actors in lead roles and two: a movie with queer representation.
We need to start supporting movies not just from our favorite, well known creators. You never know what is out there. There are stories that people are excited to tell and share, and maybe that story is one that you need to see and hear.
“Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” should not have empty showings. I once more encourage people to start supporting POC stories, creators and actors. Finally, for Mexicans young and older, who need a little more encouragement, Eugenio Derbez plays the role of Mendoza’s dad; So if not for the story, you have someone you know to support.