Gonzalez is a Mexican film directed by Christian Díaz Pardo. It was of the movies we were able to see at the Chicago International Film Festival. Their description of is it: “Spiraling into debt, González takes a job at a call center in a Christian cult’s headquarters, bilking money from its disciples. Fascinated with the charismatic televangelist, Pastor Elías (standout Carlos Bardem, Javier’s brother), González pleads with him to make him a pastor too, setting in motion a dangerous chain of events. A searing study of faith and fraud amid the global recession, González is a bracing thriller bolstered by its striking visuals and performances.” But let me tell you my first hand review of it.
Gonzalez Gonzalez is a Spanish man who is struggling to get through life and owes a lot of people money. This is made very clear when multiple people tell him to pay up. He lives in a tiny apartment that he can’t afford with who I would assume is a friend, but it’s never made clear.
His prized possession is a brand new TV that he most definitely cannot afford. But he treats it like his baby. But the TV is used repeatedly throughout the movie to progress the plot along. Oh and what a strange plot it is.
Gonzalez sees an ad on his prized TV and secures a job at a local church in the collection call center. Once there, he meets a girl who he immediately, and for no explainable reason, falls in love with.
Now the pastor at this church is completely obsessed with tithing and tells everybody all the time to give to the church. I saw this as an exaggerated view of a corrupt church and I can understand what the director was trying to do with it, but it was a bit too much for me.
Gonzalez must see this corruption as well and he believes that he can be a pastor, even though he is not a person of faith. He continually “sees” himself on his television giving sermons and such. This delusion drives him to think that he actually is a pastor.
The plot overall moves pretty slow, with random scenes of him owing people money, taking calls in the call center, watching his TV, exchanging glances with the girl, and one awkward scene where he ditches work and walks her home.
The movie doesn’t really get interesting until about the last 30 minutes. Gonzalez finally decides to do something and take action. He goes over to this girl’s house and tries to hookup with her. It culminates in a really awkward, completely clothed, sort of rape but not really where she resists but then gives in. And then he leaves. Just up and walks out.
But it doesn’t end there. He gets a gun and goes to the church and holds the pastor at gunpoint. He then proceeds to steal all the tithe money, steal the pastor’s car, kill the bodyguard, and shove the pastor in the trunk. Then, with the pastor in the trunk, he walks out into a crowded sanctuary and gives what I thought was actually a pretty good impromptu message. He then takes the girl and the trunk-contained pastor out into the country and shoots him. When he gets back in, the girl, for very obvious and understandable reasons, gets out and walks away. But then for no apparent she comes back and gets in the car with him and they drive off to live a live of luxury with their stolen tithe money.
Now I’m not going to say that this was a bad movie. But it most certainly was not good. The plot, I think, was just not believable. I couldn’t relate to it or determine the motives that these characters had. The plot also seemed to really drag until the end.
In the director’s defense, it was his first feature length film, and I think it showed. It seemed like a 20-minute short film that the director tried to stretch out to feature length.
For these reasons, I’m going to have to give this movie 2 pencil mustaches out of 5. A good concept and well shot, but the plot drags too much to make it engaging for an audience. You gave it a good try Gonzalez Gonzalez. You really did.