The Wall of Mexico (2020)

A handyman gets a lot more than he bargains for in this riveting drama with comic overtones from the duo of Zachary Cotler and Magdalena Zyzak.

Don is an American who gets a job working for the Arista family, a well-off Mexican American family who are thriving in the water business. They use well water for drinking while they use other water for cleaning and all other purposes. Upon his arrival, Don finds himself infatuated with the two daughters of the patriarch, Henry. Especially Tania, who Don attempts to help after she returns home from a night of partying. Don’s mentor Mike has been with the family for decades and has somewhat earned their trust.

When Henry and his wife Monica discover that the levels of well water have gone drastically down, they ask Don to keep an eye on the well at nights. One night, Don discovers a group of thieves stealing the water and as a result, the family decides to build a wall around the well. This soon causes major problems with the town as a whole, when Henry is confronted by the mayor. Don begins to raise his own suspicions and his methods are set to lead to some major consequences that will affect not only him, but the Arista family as well.

For the past few years, we have heard many times that the President of the United States wanted to build a wall between Mexico and the United States. Well, what if that topic came up as a symbol of the tensions that rise between elements of the two nations within a small town? That’s what directors Zachary Cotler and Magdalena Zyzak explore with this tale of a neutral party who finds himself between the family he works for and the community who see the family as a threat due to a certain action.

Jackson Rathbone is great in the pivotal role of Don, a new handyman who is green and doesn’t realize what’s he gotten into when he’s hired by the Arista family. The film sees Don, who is Caucasian, feeling the effects of racism by some of the townsfolk all because of his working for a Mexican American family. When he meets one in particular member of the community and is asked about the racism, the man’s response is “everyone’s racist, even underneath”. And two workers of a greenery are shocked and look to be a threat when they see Don and learn of his job as well.

The film also explores Don’s infatuation with the daughters in the family, who seem to act like wannabe-Kardashians as they spend their nights partying and making the most of their lives. Carmela Zumbado is pretty interesting as elder sister Ximena, who seems to be into the strange and weird. Meanwhile, Marisol Sacramento’s Tania is the more reckless of the two. She spends her nights partying, doing drugs, being promiscuous, pretty much a “live by the moment” girl who also has aspirations to be a photographer, as seen when she takes various photos of her sister as if they were doing photo shoots for a magazine.

The film also has some great performances from acting legends Esai Morales and Mariel Hemingway. Morales, sporting the look where he played Deathstroke on the Titans series, plays Henry as a stern businessman who is just doing what he can to protect his family and his business. When he builds the wall around his farm as a means to protect themselves from thieves, he finds himself and his family at odds with the community, led by Hemingway’s mayor. This adds to the tension that fulfills the film and it goes internal as well as Don finds himself at times seen as a friend to the girls but at other times, just the help like his mentor Mike, played by Xander Berkeley. The final moments of the film bring a sense of shock because it is unexpected and brings in a Do the Right Thing kind of vibe minus the complete rioting, but more of the catalyst for the shocking actions.

The Wall of Mexico is a symbolic look at how protection can be a possible cause for even more discrimination, with some great performances by Jackson Rathbone and veterans Esai Morales and Mariel Hemingway as well as Carmela Zumbado and Marisol Sacramento, even if their characters are ones you may not always agree with.

WFG RATING: B+

Dark Star Pictures presents a Winter Film Company production in association with Specola. Directors: Zachary Cotler and Magdalena Zyzak. Producers: Marla Arreola, Sarahi Castro, and Adrian Durazo. Writer: Zachary Cotler. Cinematography: Lyn Moncrief. Editing: Gabriel Foster Prior.

Cast: Jackson Rathbone, Esai Morales, Mariel Hemingway, Marisol Sacramento, Carmela Zumbado, Alex Meneses, Xander Berkeley, Moises Arias, Blake Lindsley, Joe Hulse.

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