Through simple coincidence or by design, the majority of Gael Garcia Bernal's impressive filmography has contained a fierce political bent — from the revolutionary inkings of “The Motorcycle Diaries” through to Pablo Larrain's recent Cannes sensation, “No” — and judging from the actor's latest independent project based on U.S./Mexico relations, that tendency isn't likely to change much.
Variety reports that Bernal and actress Ashley Hinshaw (“Chronicle”) have begun filming on “Deserted Cities,” a comic adaptation of influential Mexican author Jose Agustin's novel, with Roberto Sneider (“Tear This Heart Out,” Mexico's 2008 Oscar submission) directing the picture. Originally set in the '80s but updated to take place in the present, the story follows a man, Eligio (Bernal), as he attempts to win back his decidedly feminist love interest (Veronica Echegui), after she leaves Mexico to attend a writer's conference in the United States. Hinshaw's role is as yet unknown, but it's likely within the U.S. sections that her character will pop up.
The $3 million film co-stars Hlyunr Harraldson and Barbara Garrick, and also notably will feature the production design of Eugenio Caballero, the craftsman behind Guillermo del Toro's “Pan's Labyrinth.” It will also blend a “number of political angles,” according to Bernal. “[One] is between the couple, the other the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico, and another is between the archetypical Mexican macho and the contemporary feminist woman."
Considering Bernal's success in taking political themes and rendering them absorbing, consider us on board for this one — shooting now in Mexico City and Winnipeg — but until then, check out “No,” which has been picked up by Sony Pictures Classics, hopefully for release soon.