CIFF 40 Film Review

I Promise You Anarchy

                                                                                            www.clevelandfilm.org
Lisa Sanchez

Miguel and Johnny live a relatively simple life filled with skateboarding, smoking, visiting friends, selling blood to gangsters for money, and trying to hide their intimate relationship. No one in the community knows that the men are lovers, not even Johnny's girlfriend Adri (which Johnny understandably despises).

Things become complicated when the pair decide to step up their blood harvesting campaign and recruit their "cow" community to donate a few minutes of their time and a few pints of blood for a good price. However, things drastically change when Johnny and Miguel's friends, neighbors, and even Adri are loaded onto a truck to be taken to an unknown location. That wasn't part of the arrangement.

Miguel and Johnny spend the rest of the film skateboarding around trying to find the truck filled with their friends. Or, at least trying to find the truck. Huffing glue and losing themselves in each other's bodies, they lose sight of the search and Johnny abandons Miguel while he's sleeping.

What follows is the short ending of how Johnny and Miguel handle being apart. It's implied that the men have been in each other's lives since their adolescence considering Johnny's mom works for Miguel's family. Miguel has visions of he and Johnny as they once were: trying skate tricks, laying together, and thinking about a time before they were responsible for the possible deaths of 50 people.

When I read about I Promise You Anarchy, it sounded like a dark thriller undercut by a love story. Instead, the movie doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. Johnny and Miguel's love story is intriguing because of its secrecy and the implication that they can't conduct their blood-selling business if they're "fags." It's mentioned that Johnny has Hepatitis C, but the audience doesn't experience that fully.

If you are able to get a grasp of the action of the movie, it's usually just one of the scenes where a group of young men are riding through the streets of Mexico on skateboards. When the big blood deal goes down, the scenes are anticlimactic and leave you without any answers. The filmmakers presented this unique, weird, interesting premise, and then just dropped it flat on its face. The magical balance would be to integrate both Johnny and
Miguel's romance into the blood heist, but that may be too ambitious a goal for this modest movie and it's director, Julio Hernández Cordón.

Some of the wide outdoor shots in I Promise You Anarchy are beautiful, especially when cinematographer María Secco captures Johnny collapsing from grief on a freeway overpass and Miguel comforts him. Conversely, the tight shots are painful to see. Many were off-center, blurry, and unclear as to what the action was.

The most disappointing thing about I Promise You Anarchy is that nothing came to fruition. It picks you up and drops you into unknown territory without answering any of the aching questions set up throughout the film. The writing wasn't strong enough to support the weight of the story they wanted to tell, although they made a fair effort. I Promise You Anarchy wasn't what I expected and it wasn't what I wanted, but it did tell a story I've never seen told before.