Mosquita Y Mari: Sundance Film Review

Heartfelt depiction of first-crush love for two Chicana girls.

This low budget coming of age story follows two L.A. teens as they forge a unique friendship and face big decisions.

Park City – Opposites attract in this Chicana coming-of-age movie. A tender and personal look into a first-crush, filmmaker Aurora Guerrero is impressive in her first feature outing.

Centering on two 15-year-old girls in Huntington Park, Mosquita Y Mari shows the distance between the high towers of L.A. and the immigrant community a few miles east of it. In this illuminating glimpse into a personal world, Yolanda (Fenessa Pineda) is a good-girl; the high-achiever whose immigrant parents pin their dreams on her. They pressure her to do well, but their advice does not necessarily apply to her high-school world and the personal awakening she confronts.

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Yolanda is paired with a newcomer, Mari (Venecia Troncoso), who her polar opposite. She's a blossoming, fiery beauty just snuck-in from Mexico with her single Mom and younger sister. Mari's stunning looks and street cunning belie a frightened girl with low self-esteem who yearns for her deceased father.   

In this special case, opposites attract and the two become fast friends. The adventurous Mari leads Yolanda on a series of escapes which invigorate her, while Yolanda's persistent encouragement lifts Mari's fear of failing at school. Unspooling slowly but in a groping progression, Yolanda discovers that she is truly gay.  It's something she must hide from her stolid Catholic parents, as well as her boy-crazy peers.

It's a tricky tale that the two teen leads individualize. As Yolanda, Fenessa Pineda delicately reveals her character's inner conflicts. As Mari, Venecia Troncoso smolders as the bad-girl-with-a-big-heart. Troncoso's sultry looks and nuanced, exuberant portrayal should attract the attention of L.A. casting agents.

The parents get high grades also: Joaquin Garrido and Laura Patalano as Yolanda's controlling parents, and Dulce Maria Solis as the single-mom with a wild-child on her hands.

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The film shows its low-budget nature in the aesthetics: unsteady camera work, for instance. Yet, its shortcomings are assets in this gritty, verite piece.

It's a robust work of self-discovery for two girls at the most awkward and confusing years of their young lives, and a testament to Aurora Guerrero's storytelling prowess.

Production company: Indion Entertainment

Director, Screenwriter:Aurora Guerrero

Producer: Chad Burris

Cast: Fenessa Pineda, Venecia Troncoso, Laura Patalano, Joaquin Garrido, Dulce Maria Solis, Omar Leyva.

Director of photography: Magela Crosignani

Production designer: Dalila Mendez

Music: Ryan Beveridge

Editor: Augie Robles

No rating,  85 minutes

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