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Daniel and Ana 
Directed by Michel Franco
Mexico & Spain, 2009
Cornerhouse, 12 March 2010

Dario Yazbek Bernal and Marimar Vega in Daniel and Ana

Dario Yazbek Bernal and Marimar Vega

There are a handful of really quite shocking and disturbing scenes here, but rest well assured: this is a serious film on a serious subject.

Ostensibly, that subject is underground or clandestine pornography in Mexico and throughout Latin America, where apparently there is quite a vibrant market for this kind of stuff.

On another reading, though, Daniel and Ana is a study of how a victim of sexual abuse finally becomes an abuser.

In a Hollywood version of this film, one would expect the bad guys to be taken out big time.  The victims would become vigilantes and turn on them, achieving in the process some kind of cathartic release. Then they would be able to finally rebuild their lives, though naturally not before a tearful scene or two.  It would be absolute nonsense of course, but somehow satisfying.  The transgressors would be punished, paradise would be regained and restablished.

We get none of that here, mind.

Instead we are given a version of the truth that Auden expressed long ago: ‘Those to whom evil is done, do evil in return.’

The two leads, Dario Yazbek Bernal and Marimar Vega deliver fine performances, with Vega as Ana being quite outstanding.

Daniel and Ana is a powerful film, stark and unyielding, relentless in its fidelity to truth.