SXSW FILM 2014
By Linc Leifeste | March 20, 2014
Director: Emilio Aragón
Writer: William D. Wittliff
Starring: Robert Duvall, Jeremy Irvine, Angie Cepeda, Luis Tosar, Joaquín Cosio
Twenty five years ago, we were unforgettably graced with Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones tearing up our small screens in Lonesome Dove, the TV mini-series script adapted from Larry McMurtry’s novel by William D. Witliff. Now Witliff and Duvall have teamed up again for A Night in Old Mexico, the story of a cantankerous, aging Texas rancher who, faced with the loss of his ranch and his way of life, gasses up his old Cadillac and heads for Mexico. Directed by Emilio Aragón, A Night in Old Mexico doesn’t share a lot of characteristics with Lonesome Dove beyond its screenwriter, star and locale, but unfortunately it does have the feel of an 80’s made-for-TV film, with it’s cast of mostly lesser known and less able actors, hammy dialogue, characters with names like Red Bovie and Patty Wafers, underdeveloped female characters, over-the-top, one-dimensional villains and unbelievable plot twists and turns.
Opening with famous lines from Dylan Thomas (Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light), the film soon introduces us to a crotchety old Texas cowboy, Red Bovie (Robert Duvall), who is faced with the impending foreclosure of his ranch property. After being paid a visit by Gally (Jeremy Irvine), the son of his long-estranged son, the two are soon off to burn and rave away the close of the day in Old Mexico. Along the way, they pitch up a couple of hitchhikers who the audience knows are murderous criminals. Red and Gally soon become aware that their new travelers are seedy and manage to ditch them, in the process winding up in possession of their bag of money. Which means, of course, that unbeknownst to them they’re now being pursued by violent criminals.
There’s the obligatory stop at a whorehouse followed by a visit to a dingy restaurant and bar, where they meet Patty Wafers (Angie Cepeda), a beautiful, washed-up nightclub singer who always works in a crowd-pleasing flash of her breasts as part of her routine. Patty, who cusses like a sailor and has a heart of gold, is smitten by the father-grandson pair, which makes perfect sense, because what beautiful, middle-aged Mexican woman wouldn’t fall for a crotchety gringo Cowboy twice her age at first sight? The newly minted trio soon encounters the hot-on-their trail bad buys and much chaos ensues.
Give Duvall credit. He sinks his teeth into the role of Red but even Duvall’s entertaining turn is not enough to salvage this dated, mediocre Elmore Leonard meets Elmer Kelton mess of a production. Not to give anything away, as if it was ever in doubt, but the good guys win, the old Cowboy imparts invaluable life lessons to his young city-slicker grandson and the geriatric gringo rides off into the sunset with his sexy senorita, unconquered and ready for a second Viagra-fueled act.