You rarely see a film in a filmmaker career that says as much as I’m No Longer Here. Fernando Frias has created a film about a place, music, and an identity of a group of people rarely seen or talked about. This is a small subsection of Mexican culture that takes place in Monterrey, Mexico. It’s from the point of view of one young man and it’s beautiful yet painful at the same time. This is an amazing film, to say the least.
The film follows one young man in Monterrey, Mexico, and his crew, the Terkos. They have a love of cumbia music or as they say Kolombia. They sing and dance to this music. At this age, they are just innocent kids until they get caught up in a drive-by shooting of some older guys they know. The main kid has to go on the run with his family. He ends up on his own in the United States. Now he has to fend for himself.
At its core, I’m No Longer Here is a fish out of water story. When the main kid ends up in New York, he can’t speak English and has no one to help him. He finds some work and that leads him to befriend a young Asian girl. She helps him as much as she can, but the language barrier between him and her is hard for them to overcome. He falls back on his culture of music and dance, but this doesn’t work out for him either. It’s just a hard row to hoe for him in this strange land.
The writer-director has an eye for great shots. His camera work is very well done. Shots of Monterrey and New York are littered throughout the film. It is the shots of the streets and the dancing scenes that show his craftsmanship. Then there are intimate scenes of two characters talking in a small space, like a bedroom or at a table in a restaurant. How he adds light to these scenes is very impressive. The use of reds and streetlights is first-rate filmmaking. Even in train tunnels and under bridges he gets some beautiful shots.
A fish out of water story can go wrong if the main character can’t draw in the audience. In this case, the language barrier helps the viewer to understand his plight more. He’s in such a difficult place it’s hard for him to get the help he needs. This allows us, the audience, to feel sorry for him and his situation he’s in. This sort isn’t easy to watch, but the actors and filmmakers make it that much easier because of the work they put in. Everybody including the supporting cast does great work in this film.
I’m not going to claim to completely understand this young man’s culture, his music, or his people because I don’t. But I do understand being lost in a place and not knowing what to do or who to go to for help. I’ve been there before. It’s not a fun experience being in a strange place without anyone to turn to. Add in the differences between cultures and this kid is in a whole world of hurt. I felt it as a viewer, and the filmmaker Fernando Frias put me in his shoes while watching this film. The cultural stuff was beautiful to watch as well. It was a very good experience overall to watch this young man, his friends, and their entire culture from this perspective.
Dan Skip Allen
Founder/EIC disappointment media