Mija Movie Review and Movie Summary (2022)

“Mija” was directed by Isabel Castro, a Mexican-American documentarian making the leap from television to feature with this Sundance Labs project. She does so with a sense of deep empathy with her subjects, all of whom come from similar – but not identical – backgrounds. As a result, “Mija” weaves a more nuanced emotional tapestry than typically seen in immigration stories like this one. Yes, sadness and fear are present. But gratitude, anger, guilt, stress, hope, and excitement are also crucial to Doris’ story, her family’s story, and the Mexican-American community as a whole.

All these emotions are expressed through music, which forms the backbone of the film. Ecuadorian-American avant-pop artist Helado Negro wrote the score for the film and the soundtrack is packed with tracks from Latinx indie acts like Divino Niño, Omar Apollo, Buscabulla, CAINand The Marias. These complement the two artists who actually appear as themselves in “Mija”: Cuckoobedroom pop sensation Doris rules at the beginning of the film, and Jack’s Haupta Chicana teenager from Dallas obsessed with Amy Winehouse and Lana Del Rey, whom Doris scouts on Instagram.

Performance scenes that dot the film sway under dreamy multicolored lights and highlight the escapist qualities of the music, while using the relative sizes of venues and crowds to show where Cuco and Jacks are in their careers. Behind-the-scenes glimpses of recording sessions and photoshoots are more varied: some are downright romantic, while others show the more monotonous side of the business. Jack’s parents don’t approve of their daughter’s risky career move and chew her out on speaker phone more than once during her big career trip to LA Through it all, Doris stands in the background, feeling responsible for everything and anything.

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