Hesperia is a film that is not sure what it wants to be. With a runtime of an hour and twenty minutes, the first forty minutes are characters talking, specifically the four pairs mentioned above, engaged in the very conversations mentioned above. Each pair has its problems with either life itself or with one another, and we’re left wondering how these problems will resolve in the end. That is until we get to the second half of the film.
Act II is the invasion of Theo’s home by Jared, Austin, and their fence Javier (Reek Ivan). The film now moves from being a dialogue-heavy soap opera to an action movie. Without spoiling, let’s just say there’s a blood bath with an ironic moralistic ending.
“…there’s a blood bath with an ironic moralistic ending.”
The main problem with Hesperia’s story structure is why exactly do we need to spend forty minutes going over the issues of these characters considering what happens to each of them at the end of the film. The obvious answer might be to build sympathy, so when the second act is over, there’s a profound emotional impact. If that’s true, it could have been done in half the time and could have focused on the more important characters (naming the characters would spoil the film). In other words, the second half should pay off the investment we made in characters upfront. In some cases, it’s almost as if a character goes through an entire soliloquy about their life, we’re emotionally drawn into that story, and then their heads get blown off at the end senselessly. Why put us through that unless there’s some kind of meaningful resolution.
If I were to suggest one story over the other for Hesperia, I’d focus on the home invasion action story. Even better, I’d try to intertwine dramatic backstories of the first half with the invasion itself. Break up the action by tying the character’s actions (and deaths) during the invasion with their back story, giving their demise some meaning. An instance of this happens at the end of the film but could have been easily done throughout.
One other small problem is the film’s soundtrack. It’s very 80s synth-heavy background music and conveys an emotional tone that doesn’t match the action on the screen.
The overall problem of Hesperia is the focus of its story. Is it a drama or action film? My vote is it should have been action.
"…emotionally drawn into that story, and then their heads get blown off..."