Lupe Under the Sun
Distributed by Good Docs
Produced by INTI Cordera & Mario Alcala Russi
Directed by Roderigo Reyes
DVD , color, 78 min., in Spanish with English subtitles
Foreign Workers, Immigrants, Farm Labor
Reviewed by Elena Landry, George Mason Libraries, Fairfax, VA
Date Entered: 5/1/2017
From early in the film, it becomes obvious that Lupe is a man struggling with depression, perhaps not realizing his condition, and utterly without help. On foot, he leaves an environment with no economic opportunity for a life of emigrant labor in the farms of southern California.
He is powerfully built, obviously from years of working hard, and gets up at 4 AM every day to pick fruit. But at his age, 5’3” and 213 lbs., he has a hard time climbing the ladders. In a truck full of fellow pickers, he sleeps all the way to work, and always seems to have a Coors Light in his hand on the way home. The only other bright spot in his life is his widowed girlfriend, Gloria, although he seems to take more pleasure in a waffle ice cream cone than his relationship with her.
Things begin to go downhill for Lupe after he falls off a ladder, breaks his nose and apparently suffers a concussion. A doctor, (who questions him about drinking, but fails to bring up depression), tells him he’ll probably have a heart attack or stroke if he doesn’t lose weight.
Lupe doesn’t give up after this setback, however. He still washes his bicycle as caringly as do some energetic BMW owners, trims his mustache meticulously, dons a sparkling white quayabera and cowboy hat, and his St. Christopher medal proudly worn outside his shirt, while carrying a perfect white rose to visit Gloria.
It becomes apparent though that he’s just going through the motions when she, the realist, asks him to set up house with her, pointing out that he’s as isolated from his estranged family as she is from her dead husband. Lupe fails to act, and ultimately Gloria winds up declaring she doesn’t want him.
The last straw for Lupe is when he calls home for the first time in years and his wife says she doesn’t want him either, or his hard earned money, having long since surmised that he was either dead or in prison. Regardless, he sells all his possessions, including his beloved hat, and manages to borrow more money from Gloria, ostensibly to go home to die. She asks him to take her with him, but he doesn’t respond.
Our final view of Lupe is of him walking down a sidewalk with his suitcase. And the last shot of Gloria is her pawning Lupe’s St. Christopher for $80.00.
Daniel Muratalla is so realistic as Lupe, you’d be surprised to learn that he’s an actor.
Lupe Under the Sun won Film Independent’s Canon Filmmaker Award and a Special Jury Award at the LA Film Festival.