It’s not surprising that this curious Mexican film draws inspiration and some guidance from Nobel Prize-winning writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who is an old hand at mixing fantasy and reality. In this case, the fantasy is the projection of the much older Joaquina who has given silent Western hero Tom Mix the attention she might otherwise have lavished on a husband or children. It’s the 1920s, and rural Mexico is still plagued by roving thieves and killers, like those in The Magnificent Seven, except they now have fancy suits and cars that transport them from village to village for their extortion and plunder.
In makeshift movie theaters, Joaquina watches Mix serials, following each chapter scrupulously on the screen and then returning home to write him letters (which he never receives). When the bad guys threaten to return to her town, Joaquina implores him to come and undo the evildoers.
Meanwhile a stranger has come to town who seems to be a man of secrets and some considerable past. He sometimes dresses like a Western star and has some of the attributes of Mix and the sort of characters Mix played. In the heat of the moment, with gangsters ravaging the town, will Mix appear?
This movie exudes charm and features fine performances by veteran Federico Luppi (Pan’s Labyrinth) as Domingo, the man who would be Mix, and Ana Ofelia Murguîa (The Garden Of Eden) as Joaquina. What it could use is a little less forced whimsy and physical comedy. It’s a sweet picture, but it’s no Cinema Paradiso