Midnight Family | © Viennale


Luke Lorentzen (Mexiko/USA 2019)
Not your ordinary family drama, Luke Lorentzen's documentary, MIDNIGHT FAMILY, takes us on a wild nocturnal ride through Mexico City, as middle-aged father and his sons brave gargantuan traffic and corrupt cops, to tend to the sick and the injured. A deficit in official ambulances gives the Ochoa family a chance to operate their own. From the first site of blood inside their vehicle, we are in for a situational horror that is rich on contrasts: after a gory rescue of a man with a bullet wound, Lorentzen, who served as his own DP, cuts to the youngest Ochoa, not yet a teen and tagging along for a ride, blissfully chumping down chips, his soccer ball by his side. But high-adrenaline jobs can also be addictive. The seventeen-year-old Juan Ochoa confesses his morbid fascination with gore, and muses: "If there was no death, morticians wouldn't eat." Not surprisingly, the film's social microcosm is gritty, though it doesn't lack for distractions: On one hand, relentless competition; on the other, a sense of responsibility and compassion. By slowly revealing how hard and heartless it can be to earn a buck off of misery, Lorentzen includes the Ochoas among those whom the state has failed. (Ela Bittencourt)


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