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SON OF MONARCHS (2020, MEX) – 6.5/10

Already when his parents named him Mendel (Tenoch Huerta, who is still best remembered as Rafael Caro Quintero from Narcos), they clearly predestined the fate of the main protagonist of this arty metaphorical Mexican drama. Gregor Mendel was a famous mathematician and biologist who today is called the father of genetics, and we probably all remember his experiments with peas from biology lessons at school. The field of interest of Mendel from the film written and directed by the French filmmaker, also a doctor of science in molecular biology originally from Venezuela Alexis Gambis is not peas, but he focused on butterflies.

And a certain type of butterfly, and as the title of the movie “Son of Monarchs” suggests, it is about the monarch butterfly. It is precisely this most common species of North American butterfly that inhabits the forests of Michoacán, Mexico, where Mendel grew up, and where he now lives and works at a biological institute in New York. He studies the colors of butterfly wings and tries to make some scientific discoveries in his field. However, after a death in the family, he will have to return to his birthplace and face the traumas from his childhood and youth that partly led him to try to look for happiness elsewhere. From the first meetings with Mendel, it is clear to us that he has not been able to find happiness anywhere because he is one of those melancholic, pensive, obviously unhappy and lonely contemplative types completely focused on work.

Everything in this unusual, metaphorical film is somehow connected to butterflies and it all seems quite closed and cocooned, almost like a caterpillar or a caterpillar that will then turn into a butterfly. Narratively, all this is, to put it mildly, quite free and we constantly jump from one time period to another, to Mendel’s memories and thoughts, from rural Mexico to New York. So he returned to rural Mexico to bury the grandmother who raised him and his brother after his parents died in a flood.

He doesn’t even remember that event and what exactly happened, but ever since then he has had a strained relationship with his older brother Símon (Noé Hernandez, of course he also played in Narcos, the police officer Rafael Aguilar from Juarez, but I don’t know him however, I remember him best for the role of Mariano in the madness called “We Are the Flesh”). At the same time, he will also meet a trapeze artist in New York with whom he will start a relationship, but the attempt to remember the details of events when he was still a child (larva, caterpillar!), as well as the feeling of guilt for leaving, will mark his existence until he finally succeeds confront the ghosts of your past.