I Promise You Anarchy sounds like a very promising movie, mixing a number of heady and controversial topics. Gay skaters, the chaotic urban buzz and background of Mexico City, immigration to the United States, illegal blood trade and even human trafficking: it’s all in there. Mexican director Hernández Cordón sets out to comment on the apparently anarchic forces driving his country, but ultimately it is his very own film that feels indeed anarchic and disjointed.
Miguel (Diego Calva), from a middle-class family, and Johnny (Eduardo Martinez Pena), from a poorer background, are skateboarders in Mexico City’s largest square. They also share a profound friendship and sexual attraction for each other. They sell their own blood, until they find out that Johnny has hepatitis and therefore he can no longer do it. They then become brokers for the blood of their fellow skateboarders and friends. Until one day a big delivery job goes wrong: a large group of prospective blood sellers are kidnapped while Miguel and Johnny pop to the shop to buy water for them.
The urban images of Mexico City are a bleak backdrop to this sad predicament, and the performances in the film are strong and consistent. There are particularly beautiful shots in bed (see trailer below), on the motorway and of a nude Johnny on a skate rink. The film never feels exploitative or vulgar, and the topics are very pertinent in modern-day Mexico and the world.
The problem is that film script – which apparently combines elements of fiction and documentary – is too jumbled and incoherent. It is borderline impossible to follow the intertwining plots and the numerous characters being progressively introduced. For example, the abduction of the blood-donors takes place offscreen, and it is unclear what happened to them and even the consequences of the stealthy event for the lives of the two lead characters. Their relationship breaks down, but no one ever understands why, and the outcome in the end of the movie is even less tangible.
Hernández Cordón threw dirty photography, subversive themes and social woes all in the big gumbo of the film, but sadly he overcooked it, and the result is hardly palatable. This is a pity, a great opportunity missed. The film is still worth watching for some poignant moments.
I Promise You Anarchy shoed as part of the 30th BFI Flare London LGBT Film Festival, which DMovies followed live. You can now view it on BFI player – just click here.
Don’t forget to watch the film trailer right here: