Ashes to Ashes – New Order (2021)

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” – Inferno, Dante

Supporting small local theaters and indie films has long been high on my priorities list. Those are things I’d still like to do and, in returning to theaters, they often lead me down a less-traveled path. Starting the festival circuit in 2020, New Order is well-designed and executed but also one of the bleakest and most desolate films I’ve ever seen.

A posh, upper-class wedding is suddenly overtaken during an uprising that’s collapsing and re-writing the power structure in Mexico. As the military shuts down sections of the city, the bride-to-be ends up hiding out with one of her family’s employees in the poor section of town. 

Naian González Norvind is excellent as Marianne

With a story such as this, you wouldn’t expect the rich elites to be sympathetic ones but that’s the case with the soon-to-be bride Marianne (Naian González Norvind). She’s in the middle of trying to do a good deed, on her wedding day no less, when the shit hits the fan. She tries to keep her composure as her world spirals out of control, but she quickly becomes a victim of greed in the new power vacuum. Norvind plays the roles with the right amount of heart and vulnerability so, it’s especially easy to feel for her as the situation worsens. 

Writer/Director Michael Franco was wise to distinguish her from the rest of the upper-class wedding attendees in that way, especially in telling a story about a corrupt, elitist, government getting toppled. Franco was also smart to frame the alternative as an even worse option because it keeps him and his main character in the middle of the conflict as a “normal person”. The film is an obvious social commentary about class structure in Mexico and the ease of corruptibility in all levels of the government.

There are a number of quality performances throughout the film that help humanize the chaos,  but the whole thing is really intense, brutal, and completely F’ed up. 

Recommendation: Not for the faint of heart, but an interesting and provocative time capsule for Mexican cinema. 

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