Jose Flores, the subject of this documentary which screened at this year’s LAFF, was born in Mexico without legs and some missing toes. He makes his living as a street musician playing the harmonica with a neck holder and a guiro/scraper with a metal implement tied to his foot; I first thought the implement was a knife or ice pick. He has a lovely singing voice and is a good actor, most notably making his debut in Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “The Holy Mountain.” Jodorowsky is even interviewed. What Flores lacks in limbs he compensates for in vitality – and virility. He is the father of seven children, one of which was born during the making of the movie.
In a documentary about a musician, director Eva Norvind makes the odd choice of adding music to only twenty percent of the film. Jose knows 300-400 songs. Having him record 35 or so, even if only with a videocam due to budget restraints, should have been a given. More music would have helped the slow pacing, but fortunately Jose is charismatic and engaging enough. Perhaps focusing on the man more than his music serves the documentary better.
“Born Without” – which the LAFF acquired from Ambulante, the Mexican documentary initive created by Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal – illustrates the deep roots of the Catholic Church in Mexico, through Jose’s daily life and his performance art. Yet, how Jose met his wife is…unorthodox. Before the information is revealed, we honestly wonder how such a man could get a steady girlfriend, let alone a wife. The filmmaking is only passable, but the subject matter’s intriguing enough.