1968 was a turbulent time in both Mexican and United States history. It was a time of great sociological unrest and unease, when authority was questioned, and social protests became prominent. While the United States lost Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr, the Mexican government used its power to suppress political opposition from innocent students, leading to a massacre in Tlatelolco during the reign of president Diaz- shortly before the 1968 Olympics.
I bring this up only because it serves as background for Isaac Ezban's fascinating and imaginative second Science Fiction film- "The Similars".
Ezban's film is presented as film noir, shot mostly in black and white as a time period piece- a reflection of the Golden age of TV, with the aesthetics and visual flamboyance few Directors have. One can view this story as a metaphorical tale - a microcosm of Ezban's much larger narrative of reality played out on stage, or ignore it's serious philosophical metaphors and view it as a good old fashioned B movie Science Fiction tale. It really works well on both levels.
Setup- 8 people find themselves stranded at a bus station during a devastating rainstorm only five hours outside of Mexico City. But this is no ordinary storm, nor are the news reports that come in. This rain contains a lot more than just water.
The cast of characters are comprised of an old man on the verge of retirement, a pregnant woman on the run, a medical student, a mother and her handicapped child, and a few significant others. As with his brilliant debut film- "El Incidente", the characters seem inconsequential to the story. They are used merely to examine the human condition when put in a position of extreme circumstance. Most films in this genre are generally not character driven.
As the story unfolds, we witness a strange phenomenon. Each character, by way of a bizarre seizure, wake up no memory and the same face. As expected, tensions arise, characters become desperate for answers, paranoia takes over, and violence- including a few deaths- occur. The student fears the government is involved. Others believe it's the Devil. An old native Aztec woman has an opinion too, but nobody can understand a word she says.
Could one of these characters hold the secret? Is there some sort of cosmic game taking place? Can fantasy become an uncontrollable reality? There is dark humor throughout this film, which Ezban delivers- tongue in cheek. I won't spoil the surprises. This is a fun, imaginative journey into Science Fiction but one thing is clear with this Director- one can never know exactly which Universe they might be in. While his feature first film "El Incidente" was explained within the context of abstract spiritual realism, this story has it's dots well connected and unfolds with perfect timing.
The film's main metaphor is - what does man become when stripped of his identity? That was in question that tragic day in Tlatelolco in 1968. Somehow, the military forgot that individuality can not be compromised, and there are dangers when our identity is suppressed in favor of forced conformity- in other words- when people are forced to "all become the same". The fact that Ezban used a Sociological equivalency to his SyFy story shows that this Director may become a true future visionary in the world of modern day Cinema.
The direction of Ezban, along with the cinematography of Isi Sarfati, leave the film with a real 60s look and feel. Yes, this is very much Ezban's homage to Serling's "The Twilight Zone" and even has sound mixes of Bernard Herman's scores. Like great writers and directors, Ezban's story is fun, fascinating, and totally original- Just when you think you have the film figured out, he throws us the proverbial curve ball and dares us to hit it.
Review by rontepper-38401 from the Internet Movie Database.