Contemporary World Cinema

Life and nothing more

Antonio Méndez Esparza

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The second feature from Spanish-born filmmaker Antonio Méndez Esparza sensitively chronicles the everyday life of an African American family in northern Florida and their struggle to stay afloat in a society that marginalizes them.

Spanish-born filmmaker Antonio Méndez Esparza's moving debut, Aquí y Allá, chronicled the homecoming of an undocumented Mexican labourer and his difficulties reincorporating into his family's life after many years working illegally in the US. In his latest feature, Life and nothing more, Méndez Esparza's compassionate gaze turns to the everyday life of an African-American family in northern Florida and their struggle to stay afloat in a society that marginalizes them.

Regina (Regina Williams) lives with her teenage son, Andrew (Andrew Bleechington), and her four-year-old daughter, Ry'nesia (Ry'nesia Chambers). As a single working mom, having a life beyond her job at the diner and her kids is difficult, especially as Andrew rejects any men who enter her life. Andrew is a good kid, though; he takes care of his younger sister, picking her up from daycare and feeding and reading to her before bed. He yearns for his jailed father, but is terrified of ending up the same way. After an incident in a nearby park threatens her son's future, Regina wakes up to the fact that she needs to put their tensions aside and advocate for him.

Méndez Esparza's simple observational style and use of non-professional actors fosters a naturalism that brings home the complex relationship between mother and son. Set against the backdrop of the Trump presidential election, Life and nothing more is a resonant and welcome statement about race, class, and gender.

DIANA SANCHEZ

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theaters Regular