Release Date: November 1st, 2006 (IFC Center) by Kino International.
Directed by Mark Becker.
BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about Carmelo Muñiz Sánchez, a middle-aged Mexican immigrant who struggles to earn a living in San Francisco and back at home in Salvatierra, Mexico.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Romántico follows Carmelo as he struggles to make a living in San Francisco until his return back home to Mexico. He and his friend Arturo play the guitar on the streets of San Francisco, but it’s not easy for neither of them to support themselves and, on top of that, they miss their families. Carmelo comes back to his home in Salvatierra, Mexico where his wife, two daughters warmly greet him. To earn a living there, he sells flavored crushed ice. It turns out that his diabetic mother needs money to pay for an operation, so he takes money out of his daughter’s quinceañera (15th birthday) fund. Instead, they have a small celebration at home. Without voice-over narration, director Mark Becker humanizes Carmelo into a likable, warm and poetic man thanks to plenty of lively footage of his daily activities—i.e., exercising on a basketball court and jogging on a nearby track. It would have been more compelling to include more interviews, though, because the footage of the activities does eventually tend to feel a bit tedious. Fortunately, at a running time only 80 minutes, Romántico doesn’t overstay its welcome.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Carmelo represents a microcosm in world where struggling immigrants feel torn between a land of opportunity and their homeland. More importantly, by returning to his homeland, he emphasizes the importance of being with family and taking care of them. Also, not many people are as generous him. As long as he has his warm personality and spirituality he will be happy; he doesn’t need too many material possessions like a TV or computer, other than the basic materials for survival.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Occasionally tedious and not enough interviews.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 1
IN A NUTSHELL: Mildly entertaining and lively, but occasionally tedious and not compelling enough.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: VHS/DVD
The "R" Menu