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ROME 2018

Review: Bayoneta

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- Mexican director Kyzza Terrazas's second film, co-produced by Finland and premiered at Rome Film Fest, focuses on a former boxer racked with guilt, the cause of which is revealed slightly too late

Review: Bayoneta
Luis Gerardo Méndez in Bayoneta

What's a young Mexican boxer doing in a little town in Finland, and what's behind his visible torment? This is what those watching Bayoneta [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
– the second feature film by the Mexican director Kyzza Terrazas (his first feature film, El lenguaje de los machetes,made its debut at Venice in 2011) – ask themselves, and the problem is that we're asking ourselves for almost the entire duration of the film, struggling to see the real motivation behind the protagonist's choices. Presented in world premiere at the 13th edition of Rome Film Fest (18 to 28 October), this Mexican-Finnish co-production seeks to investigate the guilt of a former boxer battling the ghosts of his past, but reveals the true nature of these ghosts slightly too late on in the film, preventing us from feeling true empathy for him or generating a real interest in his life. 

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The film opens with a harrowing scene in which we see a boxer at the end of a match with his face and chest covered in blood, crying desperately. It’s Miguel Galíndez, also known as "Bayoneta" (Luis Gerardo Méndez), the Mexican boxing champion. Shortly thereafter we find him working as a trainer in a boxing gym in a freezing cold Finnish town called Turku. Shy and lonely, we see him drinking at bars at night, taking long walks in the snow and, once back at his small apartment, making silent phone calls. Little by little we discover that Miguel has a wife and teenage daughter who he left behind in Tijuana four years earlier, after a final tragic match and his retirement from the ring. Now he wants to make amends, get back the time he’s lost and return to his family, but in order to collect enough money together to do that he’ll have to put his boxing gloves back on and return to the ring, because "it's the only thing I can do".

Beyond the sometimes patchy narrative that often leaves us wondering "why?", and a mysterious deer that occasionally appears in front of the protagonist, Bayoneta invites the audience to reflect on the brutality of a sport whose indisputable goal is to hurt the opponent – in which money changes hands and people bet on a lot (including the athletes well-being) – and on how we should feel about hitting other human beings to the point of no return, to be forced to do so until the referee blows the whistle. The film sheds an interesting light on feelings of guilt in the sporting world (a feeling not taken for granted, if we really think about it, when it comes to competition), and it is a pity that the film doesn't delve deeper in this regard, creating space for an emotional rather than characterless relationship (the one with the beautiful bartender Sarita, embodied by the Finnish actress Laura Birn) that adds little to the story. The film also stars the Mexican-French actor Brontis Jodorowsky and the Finns Joonas Saartamo and Ilkka Koivula (who starred in Kaurismäki's Lights in the Dusk [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
), in the role of Miguel's boxing pals.

Bayoneta was produced by the Mexican companies Panorama Global and Woo Films and the Finnish company Matila Röhr Productions (MRP). MRP Distribution is due to release the film in Finnish cinemas on 9 November.

(Translated from Italian)

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