For almost a decade, Venezuela has fought for democratic freedom. With the opposition dissolved and a totalitarian regime by decree in charge, the nation’s wealth is lost, the poverty is beyond 96%, the bare necessities are null, and the countrywide protests have unfortunately died. Amidst the nation’s downfall, millions have fled to nearing borders, seeking refuge and permanent asylum. But is it easy to leave everything behind, begin from the bottom, and forsake the place you’ve always called home? Writer-director Diego Vicentini’s Simón depicts widespread chaos, its experiential mental impact, and the guilt of failure to bring substantial change.
Based on the short film of the same name, the titular immigrant (Christian McGaggney) has fled Venezuela to Miami and is contemplating applying for asylum in the United States. Haunted by the firsthand experiences of his nation’s struggle, worried about his identity in this unknown place, and overwhelmed with the guilt of stranding his peers and friends back home, how could anything be simple for Simón?
“…fled Venezuela to Miami and is contemplating applying for asylum…”
Simón focuses predominantly on Simón’s struggle with the loneliness and anxiety-ridden memories he has of Venezuela. We are initially made aware of a dreaded past through fading flashbacks of him leading a wide student protest against the violent military and police. We are also told of his proactive approach toward democracy and freedom and his strong wish for a better future for students who want to accomplish their dreams.
In Vincentini’s political drama, he embeds a psychological thriller to convey the actual effects of a nationwide conflict on its citizens and the subsequent jolt to their way of life. Through one man’s grind to choose between his life and outspoken, blunt beliefs against political dictatorship, the film speaks of every Venezuelan enduring similar struggles. Going into the extremities of mental and physical violation of one man’s integrity, Vicentini argues whether it’s possible to keep up with one’s moral predicaments under such duress.
But know that there are American forces at work in Simón’s life. A paralegal is helping Simón draft an adequate reflection of his experiences to help him further his cause for permanent asylum. To make ends meet, he works in a restaurant. However, a contrast also builds when we see Simón’s gaze into Miami’s calmer skyscrapers. His boat rowing sessions near the seashore are against the horrifying and chaotic visions of his friends losing an unjust battle, resulting in much personal loss. It reflects millions who are drawn to international borders for assistance. Playing back and forth between a freedom fighter’s story and that of a fallen soldier, Simón brings forth a more humanizing and compassionate tale of the country’s struggle and pushes to draw international attention toward the resulting trauma its citizens are left to endure.
"…leaves us with a strong message that relays the hard-hitting reflection on reality."