Film Essay 3: Romantico
The film Romantico tells the story of Carmelo Muñiz Sánchez, a musician struggling to provide for his family while living in San Francisco, California & Salvatierra, Mexico. Although Carmelo’s job as a musician pays considerably higher rates in the United States than it does it Mexico, with his family living in Salvatierra he has to return home to his wife, two daughters and elderly mother. Carmelo faces considerable challenges throughout his time spent in America and while at home in Mexico, some of which are specific to the region he is in and others are generalized throughout his life, such as the lack of money. In Mexico and throughout the Mexican culture music is used daily for the purposes of storytelling and entertainment. Throughout the movie, there are strong parallels to the songs being played and sung to the events that Carmelo is experiencing. Because music and musical performance is Carmelo’s full time job, it has become an overarching aspect of his life that allows him to express his emotions, thoughts, and daily events he is experiencing. The story begins with Carmelo, a near sixty year old musician living in San Francisco working as a mariachi performer with his partner Arturo. Carmelo has a wife and two daughters named Juanita and Lupe living in Salvatierra, Mexico whom he calls often. Additionally Carmelo has a mother living in a healthcare facility in Mexico who had amputations due to her diabetes, a disease that Carmelo has as well. Carmelo discusses how he came to America illegally, and the process that the coyotes use to travel people across the border. He soon decides that he needs to go back to Mexico to be with his family and be with his sick mother. While he is in Mexico he continues to work as a musician, but the pay is drastically lower than it was when he was in San Francisco. Carmelo must work additional jobs to obtain the same amount of money he was making in the United States, especially with his friend Arturo in rehab for his alcoholism. Throughout the time Carmelo is in Mexico and performing his mother passes away, and he sings at the funeral about his mother’s life and death. Soon Carmelo’s older daughter Juanita turns 15 and is getting ready for a traditional Quinceanera. Unfortunately, due to the lack of healthcare and insurance for Carmelo’s mother he had to use all of his savings for the party on his mother’s funeral and end of life care. When his friend, Arturo, is released from rehab Carmelo is unsure whether he is going to return to the United States. Although he wants to be back in the United States where he can make more money, he ultimately is not ready to leave his family again and struggles with the process of how he could return whether it be legally or illegally. During the time Carmelo spends in both the United States and Mexico he faces numerous challenges on a daily basis. While in the United States Carmelo has to deal with living so far away from his family. If something were to happen to his family at home it is possible he would not be able to help them or intervene. Also, he has to rely solely on his wife to take care of the children and his mother. Another challenge Carmelo faces in the United States is discrimination. While in the airport trying to return to Mexico Carmelo is pulled off to the side and is asked multiple questions regarding security. He is asked whether or not he packed his own luggage and if he is attempting to smuggle items for someone else. All of these questions came unprovoked as Carmelo was acting completely normal and was just trying to get through the airport normally. It can be assumed that a white person would not be asked the same questions unless acting very suspiciously. While in the United States Carmelo faces loneliness and discrimination but generally does not have as hard a time making money unlike in Mexico. During Carmelo’s time living in San Francisco he could make anywhere between fifty to one...
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