Museo is a new film from director Alonso Ruizpalacios (Güeros) and starring Gael García Bernal (Mozart in the Jungle, Neruda). It stars Bernal as a criminal who takes advantage of the weak security of the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, stealing 140 priceless pre-Hispanic artifacts. The film debuted at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival, with additional stops at TIFF and LAFF, among others.
Heist films are a personal guilty pleasure genre, and this one delivered above and beyond my expectations. This is one of the most unconventional heist films to come out in a long time, and as such, it feels endlessly refreshing. Part of what makes this film stand out is that it doesn't only focus on the heist. Rather, a large portion of the film is focused on the aftermath of the heist on the characters, providing an interesting character study. The protagonist is really well-developed, almost as a Byronic hero, giving the character an alluring ambiguity. The sidekick is also characterized well, serving as the audience's lens on the events of the film and the moral conscience of the protagonist, almost like the "angel on his shoulder". The use of symbolism in the film is also impressive, as this allows the film to incorporate elements of Mexican culture. That being said, the film also offers the thrills for which the genre is known, with there being multiple intense scenes, including the heist itself, which was very cool.
Additionally, the film was quite well-made as a whole. The cinematography and production design are both of a very high quality. The way in which the frames were composed were highly appealing in aesthetic terms. Perhaps the most impressive part of the film's execution, though, was the score. The use of percussive sounds in the soundtrack is excellent, creating heightened tension and excitement in the more suspenseful scenes. This was likely one of the best percussion-oriented scores all year. The cast of the film is also great. Gael García Bernal was as strong as ever. He is very charismatic and strong, yet also portrays emotion well, both qualities that lend themselves to him being a leading man. These qualities were particularly useful in this film because of the changing nature of the character. The film also features a cameo from Simon Russell Beale, and although he only appears in one scene, it is one of the most memorable scenes in the film and he bounces off of Bernal well.
Overall, Museo is a well-made and unconventional heist film. It takes an interesting true story and makes it even more interesting with compelling characters and phenomenal execution. This is one not to let slip under your radar.
Museo is now playing in select theaters.
Big Tuna's Rating: A-
How Did I Watch It?: A press screener.
Had I Seen It Before?: No.
Would I Watch It Again?: Yes.
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I look at films as if through old red and blue 3D glasses— one lens is as art, one lens is as entertainment.
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