In Joaquin del Paso's hotly anticipated feature length debut, social commentary is beautifully blended with absurd satire to create an arresting 86 minutes in which impression lasts long after the credits finish rolling.
Near the film’s opening, a loudspeaker voice blares out “live your life intensely…without mediocrity” to the workforce below, the ‘Panamerican Machinery’ factory, as one man sits hunched at a decade-old computer, carrying out the perfunctory task of decorating a digital flower with purple dots on a ‘paint’-esque application – the very marker of mediocrity. It’s this kind of satire which runs through the heart of Joaquin Del Paso’s Mexican bleak comedy drama Maquinaria Panamericana/ Panamerican Machinery, and offers to give a very individualised, very unique point of view from a perspective that’s becoming more and more popular in the world of Hollywood.
2015’s The Big Short tackled one of the greatest financial crashes to hit the U.S.A and subsequently the rest of the world in a way that was very specific to America. Similarly, The Wolf Of Wall Street tackled American money, using references to other countries to further their financial situation. With American Hustle – well does anything scream Hollywood with as much pizazz as an ensemble cast of Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Amy Adams, and Bradley Cooper? Not to mention ‘America’ is quite an integral part of its title. So it’s safe to say, American money is what matters in the big, wide world of film.
Enter stage left: Del Paso’s debut feature, desperately begging to differ. Whilst fundamentally acting as a political satire on Mexico, its deliberate lack of focus pleads to comment on the global crises on a whole. It’s a Modern Times meets Lord of the Flies meets The Big Short kind of deal. The company’s madman accountant urges the workers to close the doors and shut the world out, to ‘freeze time’ in order to allow the company to be saved after their beloved boss dies and they find themselves with the prospect of losing their jobs, homes and families to live on the streets, in their hands. Unbeknownst to these dedicated workers, our favourite Mexican screwball accountant – a fitting title for a man who staples a piece of paper to his head without even a hint of a flinch – is at the very heart of their financial troubles.
Don’t expect much to happen with this one, its strength lies with satirical commentary rather than an efficiently detailed narrative, which creates only fleeting waves of interest. But when that interest swims up, it’s both expertly moulded and hard-hitting, relying for the most part on empathy towards a handful of unknowing, unaware characters who stay bitter-sweetly hopeful to the very end, their dedication to the company that shrouded their life in heart and soul, blissfully unconditional. Comparisons to a parent-child relationship are inevitable in certain scenes, furthering the bitter satire of a workforce, a community, a world taken advantage of, to a dejected realm of eager, ever-hopeful melancholy.
It’s easy to see why Panamerican Machinery has been selected for the ‘In Competition’ sector of Raindance’s programme, with the air of Hollywood expertise in all technical elements shining through, yet staying steadfastly true to its Mexican roots, creating an appeal that could only be furthered by a stronger narrative arc.
Panamerican Machinery/Maquinaria Panamericana, directed by Joaquin del Paso, is being shown as part of the 2016 Raindance Film Festival. Further information about the festival including screening times and ticket information can be found here.