This review was originally published on January 23, 2012…
Yolanda (Fenessa Pineda) is a shy, straight-A student in Huntington Park, CA. She pretty much floats under-the-radar, doing good by her parents’ expectations and otherwise rolling through her life. But when Mari (Venecia Troncoso), a new student with a penchant for shoplifting and less of a concern for good grades, moves into town, Yolanda immediately becomes intrigued. In an effort to befriend Mari, Yolanda offers to tutor her and the two begin a journey of friendship, or perhaps something more, together.
You’re probably thinking that you’ve seen this film before, and if you are familiar with indie films (which I assume you are, reading Film Threat), than you’ve probably already formed an idea of how the rest of the film will play out. Drama, loss of innocence, probably a tragic end… yeah, I was thinking the same thing as the plot was setting itself up.
And that’s why I found myself enjoying Mosquita y Mari as much as I did; it knows the conventions surrounding the type of tale it is telling, and it steers clear of them. Sure, some things are going to delve into stereotype territory when you have the Good Girl and the Bad Girl making friends, but because the film does such a good job of fleshing out the complexity of their characters and emotions beyond such a rudimentary description, it transcends that petty familiarity.
Is there drama? Sure, of course, but this isn’t the type of indie film where everyone dies at the end or where we’re left with a cautionary tale of tragic consequences. If anything, I found my own cynical ideas of where a film like this should go, based on the stereotypical model, to almost perfectly be embodied by the adults in the film. Parents just don’t understand, and I was letting my own cinematic life experience bring me into the same mindset. Thankfully, I shook myself free of convention and allowed myself to enjoy Mosquita y Mari for all that it is as opposed to all that I thought it could’ve been.