Abel (3 stars)


Mexican actor Diego Luna’s first fictional feature a curious mix of poignant and bizarre

(15) 82min

Mexican actor Diego Luna’s first fictional feature film (he previously directed a documentary on the legendary Latino boxer Chavez) is a curious mix of poignant and bizarre. Nine-year-old Abel (Christopher Ruíz-Esparza) returns home after having been hospitalised for two years because of unexplained psychological problems. He doesn’t speak and his mother Cecilia (Karina Gidi) decides to keep her son in their small-town home rather than send him to Mexico City where he can be put in a specialised unit. Then one day Abel starts talking and extraordinarily proclaims himself head of the family, a fantasy that his family are happy to indulge.

Luna as an actor has often plumped for quirky roles – Harmony Korine’s Scotland-set Mister Lonely being a prime example – and he carries this sensibility over to his directing career. Abel works best as a situational comedy, particularly when the young lad tries to get to grips with understanding sexual attraction and baby making. There is also a serious message about parental abandonment and the treatment of children by society that doesn’t always hit home, especially as occasionally Luna struggles to find the right balance between comedy and drama.

Selected release from Fri 7 Jan.


  • 3 stars
  • 2010
  • Mexico
  • 1h 22min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Diego Luna
  • Cast: Christopher Ruiz-Esparza, Karina Gidi, Geraldine Alejandra

The bizarre, but poignant story of a young boy with unexplained psychological problems, returning from hospital to his small Mexican hometown. After a period of silence, he suddenly begins to speak and is encouraged to proclaim himself head of the household. A comedy with serious undertones about parental abandonment.