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Imagine this: Californians wake up one day and find that all the Mexicans have vanished. Not all Latinos, mind you — the Guatemalans, Costa Ricans, Salvadorians, and so on are still there. It’s just the Mexicans that vanish. Farms are forced to go without migrant workers, houses go uncleaned, children go un-nannied (is that even a word?), and much more. The economy goes into a free fall.

So, one wonders than, how did the Mexicans disappear? Where they rounded up by police-state type immigration officials and shipped south of the border? Genocide? No, nothing that extreme. They just simply vanished in an unexplained manner, and the whole state is surrounded by a mysterious pink/purple fog that has cut off communications.

On the whole, the concept is interesting. There’s an apolalyptic overtone there, as well as one that’s speculative. For instance, George Romero and his zombie filled social commentaries come to mind. The comparisions have to stop there. Romero made compelling films, and A Day Without A Mexican is — how shall I put this nicely? — a peice of political propaganda.

I don’t say that lightly. For the record, I agree whole hearted with the sentiment behind the film. I totally understand it’s political point of view and respect it. However, sometimes politics can trash and artistic medium and devalue it. Romero makes compelling films because he’s focused on the drama at hand. Not once, in Dawn of the Dead, does he stop or freeze the frame while a zombie is gnawing on an arm and insert, “You know, the average American consumer…” But that’s practically what a Day Without a Mexican does. It’s so intent on arguing and injecting demographic facts it’s case that it becomes a boring movie that’s tiresome to sit through. That even kills all possibility of humor and satire. If one wants to make an overtly political, banner waving movie, at least take a page from Micheal Moore’s oeuvre and film a cinematic personal essay.

–Rich Ristow

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