Directed by: Heidi Ewing

Written by: Heidi Ewing & Alan Page Arriaga

Starring: Armando Espitia, Christian Vázquez, Michelle Rodríguez, Ángeles Cruz, Arcelia Ramírez

Rating: [4/5]

Our past remains our past no matter the jubilance or pain we must recollect when looking back. An idea investigated and beautifully nurtured in the wonderfully affectionate I Carry You With Me. A look into the past filled with regret but an acknowledgment of how it led to the present. Definitely a film that deals with a relevant issue but ensures to keep its narrative influence on a human level. 

Working as a chef in New York City, Iván (Armando Espitia) looks back on his youth when he lived in Mexico and chose love even when it became dangerous. As he tried to move forward to reconnect with his son, he reckons with the decisions he made and how they will forever impact his relationships back home. 

Working on various levels emotionally, I Carry You With Me takes the trials of a real person as they present a visual representation of their complicated past. Iván’s past carries plenty of tragedy and beautiful love at the same time and the way the film presents this look back several years later allows for a sobering approach and reflection. A level of power lies in it and seeing the warts and all culminates in an important juncture where he makes such an impactful decision he’s had to live with every day. 

Iván, when younger in Mexico had the responsibilities of being a father to a young boy but then finds the right opportunity to find the love of his life, who happens to be a man. In a culture at the time that looked harshly on any homosexual lifestyle, for Iván to opt to express his love for another man undoubtedly put him in a perilous position. However, when word got around about his relationship with another man, it made the chances of him being able to see his own son all the more complicated. It creates an impasse for Iván, especially when the opportunity arises for him to go to the United States. An opportunity starts anew with his lover, but he must reconcile with what he leaves behind. 

Seeing the past breakdown through the reflections of the present Iván makes it feel all the more real how the impact of his decisions lands on him now. A distinct acknowledgment of the happiness being in America and establishing himself along with the agony of what the relationship of his son became. Through this emotional stranglehold, the film’s reflection works twofold and it leaves such an impressionable mark on the audience as it becomes difficult to blame him even with the consequences of what occurs later on. 

Taking on this filmmaking approach makes for such an innovative way to tell a story. A mix of truth in a documentary function but also a sense of nostalgic and painful recreation of the past. The film knows how to properly balance it all as it alternates between the present and the past converging in one narrative and to dramatic effect as well. It allows for the sweeping emotions of Iván’s love life to wrap us into something new and refreshing when a young man and how it has since developed into something unbreakable and rooted deeply in love. Truly splendid and wonderfully touching work in this manner.

This allows for an opportunity to heap praise on writer/director Heidi Ewing, who absolutely nails every aspect of this story. She manages to tell an immigrant story that does not necessarily have uniqueness but has a level of connectivity in the way it processes the loss of what gets left behind while acknowledging what gets gained. Ewing maintains such a delicate direction throughout this story and the way she frames everything crafts such an invigorating experience even with the mixed emotions running through its narrative. 

Beautifully put together and certainly something to appreciate as it tells an important story with plenty of affection, I Carry You With Me completely stands out. It works wonders on an emotional level from the beautiful hints of love and affection brewing when Iván begins to discover a different attraction he finally wants to act upon but also looking back on exactly what this decision cost him. Heidi Ewing proves to be someone to keep an eye on as her direction demonstrates someone who can handle such an emotionally complex narrative.

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