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 students, leading to a massacre in Tlatelolco during the reign of president Diaz Ordaz- 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 story is pure film noir, with the aesthetics and visual flamboyance that few directors have. To some, this story is a microcosm of reality, played out on stage, with a sense of urgency. To others, its good old fashioned B movie Science Fiction, with a twist only Ezban can deliver.
The setting is a bus station where 8 people find themselves stranded 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 no water.
The cast of characters comprise of an older 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.
As the story unfolds, we witness a strange phenomenon. Each character, by way of a bizarre seizure, wake up with little memory and the same face. As expected, tensions arise, characters become desperate for answers, paranoia takes over, and violence- including a few deaths. The student fears the government is involved. Others believe it's the Devil. An old native Indian 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 journey into Science Fiction, filled with surprises, incredible imagination, and challenges each character and viewer to creatively try to get a grasp on what it is they're seeing
But its more than that. It's also a metaphor for showing us what man is capable of becoming after being stripped of those positive traits that make us most human- compassion, reason, concern for others, and of course- our identity. They all seemed absent that day in Tlatelolco in 1968
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". Like great writers and directors, Ezban's story is fun, fascinating, and totally original- (something rarely seen in films today). Just when you think you have the film figured out, Ezban throws us the proverbial curve ball and dares us to hit it.
There is no doubt that one day, Ezban will make a name for himself as a brilliant Science Fiction writer and director, and in the minds of many, he already is. The crowd gave a standing ovation when it viewed at a recent United States film festival.
Review by Ron Tepper from the Internet Movie Database.