Son of Monarchs: A Deep and Personal Project
As part of the journey that is life, it is natural and necessary to leave our native place to grow, find ourselves and meet all kinds of people and places in between. But for better or worse, the memories we create in that special corner are never completely erased, and returning to it after a long time away can stir up an emotional tornado that’s impossible not to succumb to.
Hijo de Monarcas (90%) explores this premise, a co-production between Mexico and the United States. Written and directed by Franco-Venezuelan filmmaker Alexis Gambis, the movie follows the story of a Mexican biologist living in New York who returns to his hometown nestled in the majestic forests of butterflies from Michoacán.
The film debuted with a high number of positive comments that classify it as a deep, seductive, and thoughtful story that fully commits to its premise. It draws from it some powerful insights about nuclear family, cultural identity, immigration, and life cycles.
Thematic and Aesthetic Ambitions
Son of Monarchs is presented as an intimate and deeply personal project, standing out for its thematic and aesthetic ambitions that navigate the waters of the minimalist. One of its main strengths is how the narrative manages to portray the threshold between the person you were and who you have become. All of this is done through the use of metaphor: butterflies are essential to make sense of everything that is happening on the screen.
According to the reviews, the film stands out for its heartfelt performances and the colloquially naturalistic quality of the dialogue that sounds spontaneous to the chemistry between the characters and not artificially calibrated. Tenoch Huerta surprises with a restrained and subtle performance, providing many of the nuances that his character requires through silence, meditation, imbuing each moment, each look, with a depth of meaning and feeling.
The visual section of the work is another strong point, which often borders on the dreamlike with its various surreal shots of Mendel’s memories and nightmares. The director pulls off an impressive performance from the expressive Huerta. The actor uses his large body and his body language well to convey Mendel’s inner despair.
This melodrama of tensions family and personal conflicts weaves an elaborate reflection on identity, immigration, tradition, and the connections between humanity and the natural world. At times it can be tedious and indulgent, but it manages to make up for it with all its visual and thematic intensity, and of course, Huerta’s performance full of authentic vulnerability. Son of Monarchs is a well-accomplished and original work that no one should miss.