Depravity and desperation overwhelm Arturo Ripstein’s Bleak Street, a comic melodrama, set in the slums of Mexico, about two Lilliputian wrestlers (“Little Death” and “Little AK-47”), two prostitutes, and their respective families, friends, and associates. The film is adroitly edited and taut, with fade-outs at the end of every scene (Carlos Puente & Arturo Ripstein co-edited). The camera holds, follows, or slowly zooms in on the action, making the experience immersive, while the black-and-white photography accentuates the themes of the movie (Alejandro Cantú DPed). Although dabbing in a kind of stylized social realism and some miserabilism, Bleak Street remains coarsely humorous throughout, never indulging in self-pity, moralizing, or sentimentality, preferring an ironic, distanced sensibility.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White