By Don Simpson | August 18, 2014
Director: Samuel Kishi Leopo
Writers: Samuel Kishi Leopo, Sofia Gomez Cordova
Starring: Alex Gallardo, Arnold Ramirez, Moises Galindo, Rafael Andrade Munoz, Jaime Miranda, Petra Iniguez Robles
Alex (Alejandro Gallardo), Moy (Moisés Galindo), Bolter (Arnold Ramírez) and Rafa (Rafael Andrade) are four teenagers from Guadalajara in search of another original song for their hormonally charged punk band known as Mari Pepa. With a local “Battle of the Bands” contest rapidly approaching, Mari Pepa only know how to play one original song, a catchy little ditty featuring a chorus that goes “I want to cum on your face, Natasha!” As it turns out, however, Alex is the only band member who is naive enough to believe that Mari Pepa could be his career. So, as the other boys become distracted by other things, Alex finds himself bored and alone.
Writer-director Samuel Kishi Leopo’s We Are Mari Pepa relishes in its neo-realist sensibilities; relying on documentary techniques and occasionally switching to a first person perspective, the rich authenticity appears at all levels of the production, with dialogue that poetically captures the things that only pubescent boys would say and performances that give the allusion that this truly is “life caught unawares.” Leopo’s film also does an excellent job of reflecting the ways in which teenage boys tend to drift apart. Though they obviously enjoy each other’s company, the friendship of Alex, Moy, Bolter and Rafa is primed to unravel. The four boys are are a moment in their lives that they seemingly must choose between music, skateboarding, soccer, girls and jobs; because for whatever reason it seems to be impossible to juggle all of those things as a teenager. They may be bound together by Mari Pepa, but only Alex’s heart is in the band; for the other boys, it is just a way to pass the time. In the end, that seems to be what being a 16-year-old is all about — passing the time until something else comes along.